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The Rights of a Son

In my last post, I talked about living the mature life above the promises.  This teaching is carried on throughout the New Testament.  It’s not just a verse pulled out of context, but a scriptural theme that has been all but ignored by the church.

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
Galatians 4:4-5

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul talks about this life of sonship in Christ.  It’s something that I’m still trying to walk in the fullness of.

But what really began to set me free was when I realized that the promises are the rights of sons.  For instance, this means that the promise associated with tithing has been fulfilled.  God rebukes the devourer because I’m a son.

We need the revelation that we now receive the promises based upon sonship.  It’s not up to me to fulfill the promise.

For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath.  And where there is no law there is no transgression.
Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.  He is the father of us all.
Romans 4:14-16

This is a foundational passage in our knowledge of how the promises are obtained in Christ.  The blessing is received, not by my working to do the requirements, but by faith in the One who has already fulfilled them.

This truth is not only given to us by Paul but also by Peter as well.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
2 Peter 1:3-4

The phrase, through these, obviously refers to the glory and goodness of God, not our works of righteousness.  As a matter of fact, the implications of this go deeper than we have yet discussed.

According to this verse, the reason God blesses us is so that we might actually be participants, sharers, in His divine nature.  You will not find the call for us to fulfill the requirements of the promises anywhere in the New Covenant.

If that’s true, then what are the promises for?  We can look at it this way; each promise has two halves.  There are the requirements and the blessing.  According to the New Testament, Jesus came to fulfill the requirements of the promises.  We receive the blessing of the promise because of His finished work on the cross, and because we’re in Him.

As I’ve said before, you need the whole truth to be effective.  That’s why it’s so important to understand the work that Christ did to redeem us.

Question: Why is it so hard for us to accept that Christ has finished this work on the cross?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on August 30, 2017 in Legalism, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Which Road?

As believers, we should want to live a righteous life before God.  The question is; how do we get there?  I’ve been posting through Galatians and talking about legalism vs. faith.  Aren’t they simply two different roads that get you to the same place?

There are those who teach that they are.  They tell you that the way to a righteous life is hard work, tears, and a lot of self-control.  After all, it’s a hard road to keep yourself holy.

In reality, that’s not the teaching of Scripture.  Look at what Paul writes to the Galatian believers.

Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God?  Absolutely not!  For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
Galatians 3:21

The word, opposed, in the above verse is a common word with many meanings depending on the context.  I believe that Paul is asking if the Law is opposite – or the other side of the coin – to the promises.

In other words, you can follow the Law or you can trust the promises, but you can’t do both.  They’re opposite paths.  So what Paul is asking is, are they different paths to the same goal of righteousness?

I believe that this interpretation is correct because of the way Paul answers his rhetorical question.  He clearly tells us that there is absolutely no way that righteousness can be obtained through following the Law.

As a matter of fact, Paul goes on to tell us that there is only one road that brings you to this destination.

But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Galatians 3:22

Scripture is clear on this subject.  Every human being on earth is under the cloud of sin.  The only way out is through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.  There’s nothing else I can do to take me from sin to righteousness.

This means that apart from faith in Christ, the Law is needed simply to keep things in order.

Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.  So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.  Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
Galatians 3:23-25

That’s why society needs laws.  Without the Holy Spirit at work in us, there’s nothing to maintain peace and order.  The more godless the society; the more laws that are needed.

This verse goes so far as to tell us that the law is like a prison.  It locks people up until they come to faith in Christ.  Think about how true this is.

If a car thief gets sent to prison, does that mean he’s no longer a thief?  No!  He just doesn’t have the opportunity to steal any cars.

In the same way, I might get mad at someone, and feel like beating them up.  But because I know that the law says it’s illegal, and I could go to jail if I act on it, I keep myself in check.  Does that make me any less of a criminal in God’s eyes?

So we have a society of people who are prisoners of the law.  They want to do things that the law says they shouldn’t.  So they act correctly, at least while others are watching.

The only answer to this dilemma is faith in Jesus Christ.  By submitting to Him, we allow the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out.  This is the promise of God.  That His Spirit would be in control of us, leaving us free to serve God with all of our heart.

Question: Why do so many believers choose to serve the Law after accepting Christ’s salvation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2017 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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The Test and the Offering

ClimberHave you ever noticed that sometimes faith seems to take you in the wrong direction? We have to accept things that look, in the natural, like we’re headed away from what God has promised us. This was illustrated in the life of Abraham.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
Hebrews 11:17-19

As we walk with God, we must first of all trust Him. As we do this, we see Him at work in our lives. We begin to receive blessings from His hand. Our lives start to change for the better.

It starts out small at first, but the more you put your faith in the Lord, the more grace you experience in your walk. So in this post, I’m talking about those who have received from God.

Now that you have begun to see God’s power at work in your life, you would think that things start to become easier. You would be wrong.

Abraham trusted God for many years in order to receive his son, Isaac. It required him to go through a lot of hardship and even some mistakes along the way. But God was faithful, and Abraham received the child of promise.

Then something totally unexpected happened. Just like us, Abraham’s faith needed to be tested. We’ve probably all heard the story of Abraham offering up his son Isaac on the altar. But do we understand how deep this test really was?

The Bible puts it very simply. By faith Abraham…when tested…offered. This is a powerful truth that every believer needs to understand. It wasn’t just for Abraham. When we’re tested, there’s something we need to offer.

When you begin to receive God’s promises, there’s a spiritual line that you cross. Like it or not, you enter a new level of testing. Unfortunately, many Christians don’t understand what testing is all about.

In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as test is that same word translated as tempt in other sections. The translators use either test or tempt based upon the context in which it’s used.

For instance, Satan tempts in order to entice us to do evil. God, on the other hand, tests us in order to bring us to a new level of walk with Him.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone…
James 1:13

Scripture is clear; God never uses evil in His testing process. God tests us by a call to a new level of obedience. Usually it’s something that we’ve never done before. It often brings us outside of our comfort zone.

In order to pass this test, we must offer something He gave us. So God doesn’t start testing you in this way, until you are receiving from Him. I want to take a couple of posts to talk about this testing process. It’s important for every believer to understand this in order to progress to their God given destiny.

Question: What’s the greatest test that you have faced in your Christian walk so far?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2016 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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How Persuaded are You?

Bible 2We sometimes tend to treat the things of God very lightly. We say things like, “Of course I’m trusting God.” But are we really? How far would we let our faith take us? That’s the real test of our belief.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews talked about some Old Testament saints who stood their ground in the spirit.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 11:13

This Scripture says that they saw the promises of God from a distance. Obviously Christ had not arrived on the scene yet. They had to wait for the fulfillment. They went to their graves fully trusting God for the outcome He promised.

There’s actually more to it than that. The word saw in the above verse literally means to become persuaded. These believers become persuaded about God’s power.

How persuaded are you? They were convinced in God’s ability to accomplish what He said He would do. What’s the confession that people hear from your mouth?

It should be: “God can heal.” “God can restore broken homes.” “God can provide for needs.” “God can change people’s lives.”

Not only were these Old Testament people persuaded by God’s abilities, the verse says that they welcomed His promises. That word welcomed means that they embraced those promises even at a distance.

Are you embracing the Lord’s Word for yourself? It’s not enough just to agree that God is able to do something. You need to make it personal.

“God can heal me.” “God can restore my home.” “God can provide for my needs.” “God can change my life.”

We all have to come to the point where we understand that we serve a very personal God. Christ didn’t just go to the cross for the sins of the world. He went to save ME from MY SIN. I need to see Him as the One who is presently working in my life.

That will lead me to the next thing that these bygone saints were known for. They admitted, literally confessed, that they were aliens and strangers on earth. That word, in Greek, means to speak the same as. I need to speak the same Word that the Lord speaks.

I’m an alien here on earth. I’m a part of the heavenly kingdom. I have access to more than our society does. It changes the way I talk.

“God is my Savior.” “God is my Healer.” “God is my Provider.” “God is my Restorer.”

This is where our strength comes from. It’s not from how good I am, but how good my God is.

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

That word confident is the same word persuaded from the verse above. How persuaded are you, not only that God can do the work, but that He will complete it in you? It’s not about us. It’s all about what He has accomplished for us. Let the Word of God fully persuade you to put your whole trust in the Lord.

Question: What are you trusting God to accomplish in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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Stop Trying in Your Own Power

FallenThis is the last post in my series about what makes us worthy to see God’s power manifest in us. It all comes down to God’s grace working in us.

Today, many Christians are trying to improve their chances by striving to make themselves more worthy. In New Testament times there were some who thought circumcism would help get you closer to God. Paul wrote about these people.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.
Galatians 5:1-2

Wow! Paul uses some powerful words in this passage. Christ will not benefit you at all if you strive to do the work in your ability. Nothing on the outside will avail you in trying to deserve the power of God.

As a matter of fact it will have just the opposite effect. It will hinder your ability to flow in the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Paul continues.

Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
Galatians 5:3-4

We’re always looking for the quick fix. So, in order to get around the time needed to be intimate with God, we’d rather try different Old Testament acts, hoping that they’ll do the trick. People try tithing, food laws, vows, and other Old Covenant traditions thinking that somehow it will make them more worthy.

Unfortunately, by doing this one simple act, Christ, the Anointed One is rendered idle in your life. That’s what the literal Greek in this verse says. Paul states that you have gone off course from grace.

But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.
Galatians 5:5

The only way to walk in the power of God is to wait in the Spirit. It’s only by intimacy with the Lord that we’ll gain this precious gift. It’s not going to manifest through your work and ability. It will only come about as God declares you worthy as a mature son.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that there’s something wrong with tithing, eating healthy, reading the Bible, confessing the promises or going to church. These are a necessary part of our growth in the Lord. They’re also a normal part of a mature Christian’s life. What I’m saying is that if your sole purpose in doing these things is to make points toward receiving God’s power, then you’re going to be disappointed.

What I desire is to see the church reach its maturity in Christ. Only then will we see the manifestation of the power of God in our services. As long as we have the mentality of spiritual childhood, we will never experience it. Having to recite and claim the promises are a part of childhood.

It’s what children do in the natural. It’s the “are we there yet?” attitude. If we decide to go fishing on Saturday and I tell you I’ll be by to pick you up at 5:00 AM, you don’t keep calling me to remind me. I show up at your house at 5 and you’re ready and waiting. That’s what adults do (or should do).

My children don’t have to keep reminding me that it’s my responsibility as a parent to feed them. They know where the refrigerator is and they know they’re free to get something whenever they want.

It’s the same with God. Jesus, as a mature Son, did not have to keep reciting the promises to the Father. He knew that they’d activate when needed. Maturity lives above the promises. If only we could grasp the freedom and power of spiritual maturity. It would propel us into an intimate relationship with the Lord.

Question: How does waiting on the Lord in the Spirit bring growth and maturity?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2015 in Legalism, Power of God, Revival, Sonship

 

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Are You a Messy Eater?

DinnerI’ve been posting about going to God for the needs of others.

Do you remember, in Scripture, when Jesus was approached by a Canaanite woman on behalf of her daughter?  She asked for healing and the Lord seemed to give her a hard time.  He even went as far as calling her a dog – the Hebrew term for a Gentile.

He didn’t do this to be mean, but to prove a point to His disciples.  He wanted them to see how great her faith was regarding Christ.

Because she pressed in, her daughter ended up being healed.  Look at the exchange between Christ and the woman.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Matthew 15:26-28

There are some very important truths contained in this passage.  First note that Jesus called healing the children’s bread.  It’s right for the children to eat.  God does not view healing as a privilege, but a necessity.  I talk about healing in another series of posts.

What I want you to see at this point is that when Jesus walked the earth, Israel had an “all about us” attitude concerning the blessings of God.  They were very selfish concerning the Word and the promises of God.

This is interesting since they wasted most of what they received.  They rejected the ministry of Christ even though He was trying to lift them up to a greater walk with God.

It’s a principle we see played out over and over again.  The simple fact is that children are very selfish with their food.  I see it all the time.

Because of this, whenever we have a church dinner, we tell parents of small children to accompany them to the food table.  Without parental control, a child will load his plate up with the food he likes without thought to whether there’s enough for others, or even if he’s able to finish it all.  He just wants to see it all on his plate.

Many times we’re the same way in our walk with the Lord.  We’re very selfish concerning the Word of God.  We want every blessing of Scripture to be all about us.  Then we’re like selfish children who play with their food and end up wasting most of it.

In the above passage, the world is illustrated as dogs that are hungry, and circling the table where the children are eating.  They’re desperate.  They’re coming from a place where there’s a famine of the Word of God.  Even the crumbs of what we have will be satisfying to them.

It’s time for us to stop looking at everything as revolving around our own needs and wants.  We must begin to see that our ministry is to those around us.  We must start to receive the Word of God as mature saints.

Then be ready to minister this grace to the hungry world.

Question: What spiritual gifts do you possess that could help those around you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in God's Provision, Ministry, Prayer

 

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Power is Agreement with Christ #powerofGod

LightningMy last post talked about positioning yourself to flow in God’s power.  It all comes down to the truth that agreement with Christ is the place of power.  Do we always agree with Him?  Or do we make excuses?

“You can’t know God’s will for certain.”  “He may not want to heal.”  After all it can’t be our fault.  We feel there’s nothing wrong on our end so it must be God’s decision not to manifest His power.

In some cases we’re more like the Pharisees than we want to admit.  Jesus explained their problem to them.  I believe that it’s our problem as well.  We need to hear the Lord, and meditate on His words.

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.  These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
John 5:39-40

Many believers spend a great deal of time pursuing the study of Scripture.  There are radio and cable channels devoted to the study of the Word of God 24/7.

Just like Jesus said to the Pharisees, many of us think that by them we possess life and power.  We believe that if we just know the Word enough, it will increase our faith to the point where nothing will be impossible for us.

The Scripture is given to testify about Christ.  It was NOT given to grant us access to power or life.  Jesus Christ is the grand focus of the Word.  It’s IN HIM that we have power and life.

Our problem is that we refuse to go to Christ to have access to power and life.  Jesus said, “I have come that you would have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)  Power rests solely in Christ.  If we don’t abide in Christ, then we don’t have access to the power.

The very Scriptures that we recite, confess, and memorize are telling us who Christ is and what He’s done.  This should cause us to run to Him.  Instead, we embrace the Word and think that it will give us power.  It’s so much easier to live for ourselves and quote promises, then to abide in Christ.  That requires spiritual effort, and we like to look for the shortcuts.

This is the instant generation.  We want everything now without any waiting.  By constantly using our credit cards we will give away our future for a momentary pleasure.  We have to have everything now.

Well, this is something that’s impossible to get instantly.  It requires the work of an intimate relationship with God.  Power flows from Christ to us if we’ll do what it takes to position ourselves to receive it.  It’s time for the church to wake up and view relationship with Christ as the priority of the hour.

Question: Are you willing to wait in God’s presence rather than seek for instant success?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2013 in Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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