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The Great Change – Earthly to Heavenly

In my last post, we saw the two different perspectives that we can have as believers.  You can live for the world with the dirt mentality.  You can live for Christ with an eternal focus.  That’s an important choice because the material things of this earth are not transferrable to the heavenly kingdom.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1 Corinthians 15:50

As we exist right now, with our body made of dirt, we cannot inherit God’s kingdom.  That’s a problem.  But if you’re in Christ, there’s no need to worry about it.  God has the solution.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52

There’s coming a day when everything changes.  When the passage says that we will not all sleep, he’s talking about the sleep of death.  We’re not all going to die.

There are some of us who will be alive at the Second Coming of Christ.  At that moment, we will be changed.  Our soulish bodies will be immediately converted into new, spiritual bodies.

If you remember what Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church, the dead are not left out.  As a matter of fact, those who die in Christ are the first to receive their new bodies.  Then, we get ours.

That’s good news.  I can’t enter into my eternal life in God’s kingdom with my present fleshly body.  So God arranged to have it changed into a heavenly body.  It’s something I could have never hoped for apart from the work of Christ on the cross.

I love Paul’s description of this change.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
1 Corinthians 15:53

The word perishable means that right now we are subject to decay.  The older we get, the more things don’t work the way they used to.

For instance, in high school, I was a powerlifter.  Now that I’m over 60, I can’t lift what I could back then.  It’s a part of the decay process.

But this verse tells us that there’s a day when we will be clothed with an inability to decay.  Even better than that, we’ll be given an inability to die.  That’s a day to look forward to!

It’s all because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross.  He won a great victory that day.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:54-55

The Lord Jesus Christ defeated death.  The Good News is that now, in Him, we reap the benefits of this victory.

As believers, we know that there’s nothing to fear in death.  Even more than that, we don’t need to fear the aging process.  In Christ, it’s 100% reversible.  When Christ returns I’ll be young again – forever!

Question: How do you keep the Return of Christ in focus?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2019 in Encouragement, Power of God, Return of Christ

 

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Planting for the Resurrection

As a pastor, I’ve been asked many questions about death and the resurrection.  The Apostle Paul had to deal with these issues as well.

But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised?  With what kind of body will they come?”  How foolish!  What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
1 Corinthians 15:35-36

This is our great hope in a nutshell.  We’re not just looking for the end of life.  In Christ, there is death and rebirth.

Even knowing this, people have questions about how this all works.  What about believers whose bodies were burned at the stake?  Or those who died in shipwrecks and were eaten by fish.  Then there are those who choose to be cremated.

This section of Scripture deals with these issues.  The bottom line is that we don’t need to worry about what happens to our bodies after we die.

When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
1 Corinthians 15:37-41

Paul starts by saying that every type of body is different.  We serve a very creative God.  He loves variety.  So the natural universe is a grand display of His power and artistry.

But one thing is clear…the body that’s placed in the ground is not the body that will rise at the resurrection.  That’s just like the fact that a tomato plant looks nothing like the tomato seed that was planted.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44a

This is the foundation for our expectation of the future.  When we attend a believer’s funeral, it’s not the body in the casket that will rise.  On Resurrection Day we will receive a brand new body.

It doesn’t matter if your dead body is burned, eaten by fish, or turned into powder by the passing of time.  The body that was “planted” does not contain the material of the new body that will rise at the coming of the Lord.

According to this verse, the old body is subject to decay, disgrace, and weakness.  Our new body will have none of those characteristics.  Instead, it will be a body that has immortality, glory, and power.  That’s something to look forward to.

The last part of this verse gives us a little more insight.  Right now, our body is natural, or literally, soulish.  That means that our flesh is under the authority of our mind.  Whatever we think about, our body performs.

After the resurrection, our body will be a spiritual body.  That means it’s under the control of our spirit.  It will function like Jesus did after His resurrection.  It will even be able to transport wherever it needs to be – even going through walls if needed.

As I said in the last post, this thought should give us the perseverance to live for Christ to our fullest potential.  We know that our future, in Him, will be glorious!

Question: How focused are you on eternal life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2019 in Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Reason for Perseverance

Sometimes it seems difficult to serve Christ.  That’s especially true in the parts of the world where Christians are persecuted.  Why do we persevere through the trials?

We’re continuing to look at First Corinthians. Paul is teaching about the truth of the resurrection.  He’s writing to some believers who think that the concept of resurrection is only a suggested teaching.

Paul rebukes them and explained that belief in our future resurrection is non-optional.  Without the resurrection, there’s no salvation.

He now talks about how it relates to us.

Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?  If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?
1 Corinthians 15:29

This probably refers to a local tradition they had in the early church.  If someone was saved in prison and was martyred before they could be baptized, someone would be baptized for them.  In this way, they could publically proclaim that this person was saved before they died.

But how does looking forward to the resurrection affect us?

And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?  I die every day — I mean that, brothers — just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.  If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained?  If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
1 Corinthians 15:30-32

Paul walked a very difficult road in his service to Christ.  It involved persecution again and again.  It was his view of the resurrection that kept him going.

That’s why he asks the important question.  Why go through this type of suffering if there’s no resurrection?

No resurrection means that there’s no eternal life.  That would mean this life is the only thing we’d experience.  If that was the case, there would be no reason to endure hardship for the Lord.  Without eternal life to look forward to, our goal should be to go for everything the world has to offer.

The fact is that eternal life is real.  We will rise again when Christ returns to the earth.  This present world is not all that there is.  We can give all for Jesus, knowing that our future glory is something to look forward to.

The apostle gives those who don’t believe in the resurrection a final rebuke.

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God — I say this to your shame.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34

It all comes down to who you’re trying to impress.  If you spend all of your free time with unbelievers and you want to please them, then your character will suffer.  Their attitudes will start to affect you.

The ones that Paul was writing to actually got to the point where they felt that the Resurrection Day was unimportant.  Their walk with the Lord suffered because they were living for the world.  We can’t allow that to happen to us.

You need to take stock of your friendships.  What effect are they having on you?  Are you in fellowship with other believers, or do you mostly want friendship with the world?

Keep your focus on the eternal.  That’s what will give you the foundation for perseverance in Christ.

Question: How important is the future resurrection to you?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2019 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Jesus Teaches About His Return

In my last post, I talked about the Day of the Lord.  That’s the day that when Christ appears to rule over the earth.  Every eye will see Him as He establishes His millennial kingdom.  The Lord explained to His disciples exactly when this would take place.

“But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
“At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.  And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”
Mark 13:24-27

Here’s one of the verses that many Bible teachers seem to ignore.  This is the statement that Christ uses to bring all His other teachings into perspective.  Are you going to ignore it, or are you going to believe what Christ Himself taught?

This day may be called many things: “The Day of the Lord”, “The Day of the Son of Man”, or “The Day of Christ”.  Whatever you want to call it, it’s the day Christ returns to the earth to claim His rightful throne.

He makes it perfectly clear.  Mankind will see this return.  This is the day He comes to establish His kingdom.  His teachings to the disciples referred to it as His day, the day Christ comes to reign on the earth.  But wait!  What else happens on this same day?

The Lord makes that clear as well.  He sends out His angels to gather His elect – the church.  The angels will then gather us from the four winds, meaning those of us who are living on the earth at the time of His appearing.  It also says that they will gather us from the heavens. That means those believers who have already died before this day.

That makes this the Resurrection Day as well – the last day of the age.  According to Christ Himself, the Day of the Lord and the Resurrection Day are one and the same.  Look at how the Gospel of Matthew records it.

“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
Matthew 24:30-31

All nations will mourn.  They – all nations – will see Him.  There will be a trumpet call.  The Scripture makes it very clear that the elect, those committed to Christ, will be gathered up on that day. This is the same day that Christ appears to all nations to take His rightful place as the Ruler of the earth.

How does that sit with what you’ve been taught?  Jesus teaches that the Resurrection Day and the Day of the Lord are the very same day.  Now the choice is up to you.  Who are you going to believe?  A man who comes saying that there’s a seven-year wait between the two or the Living Word of God Himself?  As for me, I chose to believe what Christ teaches.

Question: Why is the belief in the seven-year wait so popular?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2018 in Return of Christ

 

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The Hope of Resurrection

I’m continuing with my look at First Thessalonians. As I’ve said before, Paul had sent Timothy to that Church to see how they were doing. Timothy returned with a good report of their growth. He also brought some questions that the church had asked during his visit. Now we’re going to see Paul’s answers.

One of the questions they asked was this: When Christians die, does that mean they’re going to miss out on the Second Coming of Christ? That’s a good question. Let’s see the apostle’s answer.

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.
I Thessalonians 4:13

Please realize that the term ignorant was not being used in a bad sense. Paul means that he didn’t want them to be without knowledge. He didn’t want them to be lacking in their teaching on the Lord.

He also uses the term fall asleep. The early church used this to signify that someone was dead. They realized that when a believer dies, they don’t cease to exist but rather enter the presence of the Lord. Their body, however, looks like it’s sleeping.

His first instruction to them is that they’re not to grieve as the world does. We’re not to act as people who don’t have any hope. We have an eternal hope.

We know about the resurrection of the dead on the Last Day. Because of this knowledge, funerals don’t hold the same fear over us that the rest of the world has. We shouldn’t act like we’re never going to see the departed Christian again.

Yes, I realize that there’s a parting process. You’re not going to see that person for a long time – so there’s going to be that kind of grief. But don’t grieve as if you’ve lost them forever. Don’t mourn like somebody who has no hope.

We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
I Thessalonians 4:14

Because of the foundation of the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself, we know that Paul is talking about the day when Jesus returns. He’s speaking here about the Last Day, the Day of the Lord.

We remember how Jesus taught that on that day, when He returns, every eye shall see Him. This passage reminds us that on this day, He’s going to bring with Him those who have died in the Lord. All the saints that Jesus referred to as being gathered from one end of heaven to the other will be there.

According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
I Thessalonians 4:15-18

In other words, those who have already died in Christ have a better place in the resurrection than we do because they’re the first to be called. The Scripture says here that we’re not going to precede those who’ve died in the Lord. There’s a divine order to the resurrection.

Obviously, it’s going to take place in an instant. It’s not like we’re going to have to wait around for an hour. But in that instant, when we’re resurrected, the dead in Christ are going to be resurrected first.

Paul is calming their fears that those brothers and sisters who have passed on before us will not be missing out on anything.   They have a good place in the resurrection.

This should be an encouragement to each of us. What we see of the material world is not all that there is. We have a hope that goes beyond the natural. We should be looking through an eternal perspective.

Question: How should our future hope affect our present way of living?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

NOTE – If you want a more detailed look at the Second Coming of Christ, then click here to read about my new book.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2017 in Encouragement, Faith, Return of Christ

 

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Jesus Christ – Our Living Hope

Cloud2For a couple of posts we’ve looked at the first time Jesus mentioned the Last days in His teaching (John chapter 5). It’s the basis for constructing our picture of the future return of the Lord.

As I said before, we’ll build “line upon line, precept upon precept” as we go along. In future posts, we’ll be making the picture more complete.

“For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
John 5:26-30

The cross is our starting point. We come along about 2000 years later. The physical resurrection of the dead that Jesus talked about hasn’t happened yet. But, we know for a certainty that someday the dead are going to rise and there’s going to be a time of judgment with the result being either eternal life or eternal condemnation.

We don’t know when it’s coming, but there will be a resurrection day. In Jesus’ teaching, that we looked at in my last post, the disciples hadn’t heard anything that was new to them. Jesus didn’t start with some new doctrine that they’d never heard before.

You can find teaching on the resurrection throughout the Old Testament, too. Job looked forward to it in the book of Job chapter 19. It’s a Scripture that’s probably familiar to most of you. It was Job’s statement of faith that one day he was going to see the Lord.

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
Job 19:25-27

Even in the Old Testament, believers knew that there was going to be a resurrection. They understood that God was not going to leave His people in the grave. It’s in a few other places in the Old Testament as well. Not a lot, but enough to let us know that it was a recognized concept.

The Old Testament saints knew about it. Even the Pharisees, as a group, believed and taught that one day God would bring about the resurrection of the dead.

This is where Jesus starts out. It’s a very simple concept, but He begins where His disciples were familiar – the fact of the resurrection.

The only shocker in His teaching was that it will be the voice of Christ that causes the dead to rise. I’m sure that the Pharisees had some choice thoughts on that subject. We, however, are given a foundation upon which to build the rest of the teaching on the return of Christ.

It’s the Lord Himself who is our resurrection. It’s His voice who will call us from our graves to a place of victory. This is a day we can all look forward to as believers. Knowing this, we now have a proper foundation upon which to build the rest of our end-time teaching.

Question: How does the hope of the resurrection comfort you, especially in uncertain times?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2016 in Power of God, Return of Christ

 

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The Return of Christ – Who do You Believe?

Cloud2In my last post I talked about the Day of the Lord. That’s the day that when Christ appears to rule over the earth. Every eye will see Him as He establishes His millennial kingdom. The Lord explained to His disciples exactly when this would take place.

“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
Matthew 24:30-31

Here’s the verse many Bible teachers love to ignore. This is the statement that Christ uses to bring all His other teachings into perspective. Are you going to ignore it, or are you going to believe what Christ Himself taught?

This day may be called many things: “The Day of the Lord”, “The Day of the Son of Man”, or “The Day of Christ”. Whatever you want to call it, it’s the day Christ returns to the earth to claim His rightful throne.

He makes it perfectly clear. All nations will mourn. They – all nations – will see Him. This is the day He comes to establish His kingdom. In His teachings to the disciples He has referred to it as His day, the day Christ comes to reign on the earth. But wait! What else happens on this same day?

The Lord makes that clear as well. He sends out His angels to gather His elect – the church. There will be a trumpet call. The angels will then gather us from the four winds, meaning those of us who are living on the earth at the time of His appearing. It also says that they will gather us from one end of heaven to the other. That means those believers who have already died before this day.

That makes this the resurrection day as well – the last day of the age. According to Christ Himself, the Day of the Lord and the Resurrection Day are one and the same. Look at how the Gospel of Mark records it.

“But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
“At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”
Mark 13:24-27

The Scripture makes it very clear that the elect, those committed to Christ, will be gathered up upon that day. This is the same day that Christ appears to all nations to take His rightful place as the Ruler of the earth.

How does that sit with what you’ve been taught? Jesus teaches that the Resurrection Day and the Day of the Lord are the very same day. Now the choice is up to you. Who are you going to believe? A man who comes saying there’s a seven-year wait between the two, or the Living Word of God Himself? As for me, I chose to believe Christ.

Question: Why is the belief in the seven year wait so popular?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2014 in Return of Christ, The Church

 

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