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Are You a Prodigal?

I’ve been posting about our sonship in Christ from the book of Galatians.  Paul makes it clear that this is our primary relationship with the Father.  He is looking for mature sons to represent His kingdom on earth.

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:6-7

One of the best illustrations that I’ve found to describe what the Lord is looking for comes from Christ Himself.  He sums up this truth in what we call the story of the Prodigal Son.

In Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-52) there are actually two prodigals.  Both sons disappointed the father.  If I can understand the problem that’s put forth, then I can walk in a way that’s pleasing to God.

You’re probably wondering why I said that both of the sons disappointed the father.  Most people teach that only the younger son was in the wrong.  Actually, they both had the same problem, they just handled it differently.

The Scripture shows that the two sons had an incorrect view of their relationship to the father.  After spending all of his inheritance, the younger brother made this statement.

‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
Luke 15:18-19

He’d lived his life on the assumption that his father wanted him to be a servant.  As a result, he broke free by demanding his inheritance and leaving home.

The older brother had the same view of his father.  But instead of leaving, he lived under it his whole life.  It all came out when the younger brother returned and the father wanted to know why the older brother didn’t want to celebrate.

But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.’
Luke 15:29

Did you hear him?  “All these years I’ve been your servant.”

Both sons were under the assumption that the father wanted them as slaves.  Nothing was further from the truth.  The father was looking for faithful sons who he could entrust all of his possessions to.

It’s the same in our walk with the Lord.  How do you see yourself?  Do you think that God wants you for a slave?  If so, then you’re headed down the same road as the prodigal.

You might turn out like the older brother and spend your life in frustration thinking that God’s treating you unfairly.  Or you may respond like the younger, giving up on serving God altogether.

The truth is that God doesn’t want you to be His slave.  He’s looking for mature sons and daughters who will carry out His will on the earth.

Our goal should be to learn how to mature in Christ.  To be a faithful representative of the Lord on earth.  The Father is looking for adult sons and daughters who’ll live according to the leading of His Spirit in us.

Question: How does laying aside the slave mentality help you in your walk with God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on September 1, 2017 in Legalism, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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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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The 5 Warning Signs of Legalism (Repost)

I’m continuing through the book of Galatians, studying Paul’s teaching on legalism.  Because many people have told me this post helped them in the past, I decided to include it in this series.  I hope this repost will be a blessing to you.

Many Christians are bound by legalism.  Are you one of them?  The trouble is that legalism can be very deceptive.  You can be caught up in it and never know it – unless you see the warning signs.  I hope this will be both a challenge and a blessing to you.

Elevating works over position.  Do you worry about what you can do to please God?  The correct answer is – nothing!!  It’s the blood of Christ that makes me acceptable to God.  Nothing I do can make Him love me any more or any less.  While works can affect my rewards and blessings, they’ll never change God’s love and acceptance of me if I’m in Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Seeing yourself more of a slave than a son. Yes, we do serve God and are expected to obey Him in all things. But the way we obey is as mature sons and daughters.  As spiritual children, we learn servanthood.  It’s the training ground for our growth in Christ.  The purpose of servanthood is so that we can walk in maturity.  The Lord desires sons and daughters to represent Him to the world.  (Galatians 4:1-7)

Relying more on your confession than God’s grace. I believe in the confession of Scripture.  Rehearsing and memorizing it is an important part of the believer’s life.  Just as important is the reason we do it.  The purpose of confessing God’s Word is to increase our faith in Him.  But ultimately, it’s not my confession, but the power of God that will bring about the changes that I need.  (II Peter 1:3)

Giving more time to studying Scripture than to intimacy with Christ.  Scripture study is very important – it’s one of my passions.  I couldn’t live without it.  But, spending quality time with the Lord is even more so.  Jesus rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees for diligently studying the Scriptures, yet not going to the Christ that they pointed to.  It’s not enough just to know about Christ.  I need to have an intimate, personal knowledge of Him that only comes from time spent in His presence.  (John 5:39-40)

Being confident more in the comparison with others than abiding in Christ.  Comparison is a deadly trap.  The problem is that I can always find someone less committed than me. It gives me a false sense of security because I’m no worse than anyone else.  On the other hand, I can spend my days feeling worthless, because I look at others who are farther along than me in the faith.  I can’t base my self-evaluation on someone else’s life.  My goal is not to be better than you, but to be like Christ.  (II Corinthians 10:12)

Questions: Have you battled with legalism?  How have you overcome it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2017 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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Is there a “Glass Ceiling” in Christ?

Many people accuse the Apostles of being male chauvinists.  They say that in their writings they speak mostly to men and assign women to a lower position.  I believe that this is an inaccurate assessment based upon a mere surface reading of the Bible.

As we continue our study of the book of Galatians, Paul begins to talk about the concept of sonship in Christ.  It’s an important truth that all believers – both men and women – need to understand.

Let me start by saying that I’m not going into a detailed discussion of women in the ministry.  However, a careful reading of who Paul greeted in his letters, and how they were titled, shows that Paul ordained women as both pastors and apostles.

There’s no Scriptural “glass ceiling” that would keep a woman from attaining to any position or calling. It’s all based upon the will of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual.

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29

What I really want to talk about is the use of the words son and sonship in Scripture.  Unlike what many teach, it was not the Apostles trying to make the church a Patriarchy.  In reality, it was just the opposite.

In the cultures of the day, which included Roman, Greek, and Middle Eastern peoples, the place of women were at the bottom of the social ladder.  At best, they were a piece of art to be seen and appreciated.  At worst, they were treated as property, slaves, or a family pet.

In Peter and Paul’s letters, this concept was totally done away with.   They elevate women to a new level of equality unheard of in their day.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
1 Peter 3:7

Peter used a word in this passage that’s translated heirs with you.  It’s literally the word co-heirs.  This means that the wife is someone with an equal share and claim on the inheritance.  This was unheard of in those ancient cultures.

Women rarely, if ever, shared in their family inheritance.  But in the family of God, all this has changed.  Now women are considered of equal importance in the spiritual inheritance of the Lord.

In Christ, there’s no longer the differences and limitations placed upon us by society.  These have all been done away with at the cross.  In the first verse we looked at, Paul says that there is neither…male nor female. YOU ARE ALL SONS.

Why would the Apostle make such an absurd sounding statement?  He did it to emphasize the truth that in the Kingdom of God women have all the rights and privileges of a firstborn son.  God sees a woman on the same spiritual level as a man.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:15-16

If you’re a woman of God, then never feel inferior or of less importance than a man.  You can go as high in ministry as the Holy Spirit will bring you.

Question: How has the ministry of women positively affected your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2017 in Encouragement, Ministry, Sonship, The Church

 

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Mercy and Perseverance

MountainI’m continuing the series about understanding God’s mercy. If you boil it all down to a simple phrase, here’s what I see in Scripture. Mercy is the favor God shows to His sons and daughters.

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
James 5:11

One thing that’s abundantly clear from Scripture, the walk of mercy will require perseverance. Of all the people for James to use for an example, did he have to pick Job? The simple truth is that Job drove his friends crazy. The big question on everybody’s mind is; why was Job at a standstill? According to his friends it was because he must have been doing something wrong.

That kind of thinking was absolutely incorrect. Job was being trained for a higher walk in God. As I’ve said before, promises are for spiritual children. In order to get them to obey you must say things like, “Clean your room and you can have ice cream.” Adults don’t live like this.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:1

Many times I’ve preached from this verse telling my congregation the importance of laying their lives down as living sacrifices. But until I understood the concepts of Biblical mercy, it was always in a legalistic vein. Notice the motivation we’re to use to propel us to offer our lives before God.

Is it in view of God’s law? Maybe it’s in view of the promises? NO!!! It’s as we keep the Lord’s mercy in our sight that we have the drive necessary to lay our lives down on His altar. That’s how powerful the walk of mercy can be. In order to obtain it, it’s worth the greatest cost we can imagine. The total surrender of our lives to God’s plan.

God simply asks you to make the offer, wholeheartedly. Why do we make this life altering decision? It’s because we know that this is the Lord’s desire. No strings attached, no hidden agendas. “Lord I want to know You, because only You are worthy of the investment of my life.” We only obtain mercy through becoming a willing sacrifice.

This is why I made such a bold claim earlier in this series. This isn’t something that you can just try for a day. It would be just as foolish as trying a diet for a day, and then saying that it didn’t work. If we want the benefits of mercy, then this walk must consume our lifestyle. Only then will we have that “blank check” in the spirit.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.
Galatians 6:14-16

If you desire to walk this walk, you must know that mercy makes this the only rule. “Boast only in the cross.” Do you want power? Do you want to live above the law and the promises? Then you must learn to walk the way of mercy.

You must pursue God simply to know Him. You must offer all you are to God, simply because He desires it. Then, when you see the manifestation of His power in your life, boast only in the cross. This is the secret to how Jesus lived and ministered in the world.

Question: What must you do to begin walking in God’s mercy?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Worthy or Not

MirrorIn my blog I talk a lot about the concept of sonship. This is how God views us all (male and female) through the blood of Christ. There needs to be an understanding of the relationship of sonship to walk in the power of the Lord. This creates a problem for most Christians.

The “Prodigal Son” put it in just the right words.

The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
Luke 15:21

It’s the same question that most of us wrestle with as believers. Am I worthy? This is usually what drives us to the law (or to the pigpen). I need to understand what makes me worthy of having God’s power manifest through my life. This was illustrated beautifully one day when Jesus was in Capernaum.

There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.
Luke 7:2-3

Listen carefully to what the elders said to Jesus.

When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”
Luke 7:4-5

The elders literally said this man is worthy because… They based his worthiness upon good works. We now know from Scripture that this is wrong thinking. It’s the childhood, slavery mentality to think that my good works somehow improves my standing with God.

Jesus, however, understood their heart.

So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
Luke 7:6-7

By the centurion’s own words he said, “I am not worthy.” The Pharisees said what they thought Jesus wanted to hear. The friends said what the centurion wanted them to say.

This centurion said that he wasn’t worthy of two things. First he was not worthy for Jesus to come to him. He also said that he was not worthy to go to Jesus himself.

The question arises, was he worthy or not worthy? We know that his faith was ready by the statement, “But say the word…”

It turns out that there are two different Greek words that are used in this passage. They are the two that trip up believers every day. When the centurion said, “I do not deserve to have you come under my roof,” the Greek word hikanos is used. The word hikanos means far enough along, good enough in English.

When the man said, “I do not even consider myself worthy to come to you,” the Greek word axios was used. Axios means deserving in English. In other words, many times we feel that we’re not worthy because we either don’t deserve it or we’re not far enough along in our walk with God yet. The big question is, what does the Word of God say?

Over the next few posts I’m going to look at the Biblical concept of what makes us worthy.

Question: How do feelings of unworthiness affect your Christian walk?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Sonship

 

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Sonship Beats the Law

I’ve been posting about the Biblical principle of Sonship. In my last post I talked about Zacchaeus from Luke chapter 19. Jesus had just called him down from the tree and told him that He was coming to Zacchaeus’ home.

Zacchaeus had no idea what was about to happen.

So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’”
Luke 19:6-7

These two verses show us in a tangible way the difference between using the power of the law and the power of the Spirit. The law is always trying to block your way. It says that you must get yourself ready before you can abide with Christ. The religious people thought that there was no way that Christ should enter Zacchaeus’ home.

I’m writing this so that you’ll know for a certainty that it doesn’t matter how you start out. Your problems, failings and lack of commitment are all things of the past. You can start fresh by abiding with Christ today. The time to run to the Lord is before you try to fix yourself up. It’s only as you remain in His presence that you receive the power for changing your life.

Look at what happened to Zacchaeus.

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Luke 19:8-10

Salvation had come to Zacchaeus’ house. We usually misunderstand what salvation is all about. If you can grasp its total impact in Scripture, salvation actually includes all of God’s life changing and restoring power. It was this power that was manifest in Zacchaeus’ life that day. His love of money dissipated in the light of the Spirit’s love.

But the more importantly, Jesus said that he, too, is a son. He may have gone his own way for a while, but Zacchaeus was loved by the Father. The Lord was clear that He came seeking Zacchaeus.

It’s an interesting perspective because Zacchaeus thought that he was seeking Christ. It’s just like our spiritual worship. If we will “bend forward to kiss” the Lord, then He will bend forward to kiss us.

The greatest ministry of Christ was that He came to seek and save that which was ruined. Right now the body of Christ in America is full of ruined sons. It’s time to seek the Lord.

What we’ll find is that in our seeking of Him it’s actually the Lord who’s seeking us. It’s time for us as believers not get saved, but to BE SAVED. We need to rise up to our rightful place and position of Sonship.

This can only happen as we see the importance of our relationship with the Father. This means that we understand how to relate as sons and daughters to our heavenly Father.

Question: How does Sonship change your view of who you are as a believer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2014 in Faith, Legalism, Sonship

 

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