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God’s Approval System

I’ve been posting from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. In it we’ve been looking at the true Gospel. According to Paul, it comes with a demonstration of God’s power. In my last post I talked about the other methods people must use when they don’t walk in God’s power.

The question is; why is there so little of the whole Gospel of Christ being presented in our generation? It turns out that Paul understood the answer.

On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4

We’ve seen that Paul understood the true Gospel as including power, the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, and deep conviction. That might have been surprising to some. But I believe his words in this verse would totally shock many preachers if they understood their significance.

According to Paul, you need to be approved by God to preach this Gospel. Actually it’s deeper than that. He said that you need God’s approval even to be entrusted with this Gospel.

Is this what’s taught in Bible schools? I don’t think so; at least I’ve never heard it taught. In my experience preaching the Gospel is simply coming up with a Scripture for an opening text. Then we apply it to the need for the hearers to “get saved.”

Where’s the power? Where’s the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, and the deep conviction? I believe that there’s too much unapproved Gospel being preached these days. That’s why many have written off Christianity as a dead horse that needs to be removed from society.

How do you become approved to be entrusted with the true Gospel? The answer to this is why there’s so little of it in our generation. It’s not about college degrees or denominational accreditation. No, it’s much deeper than that.

Paul makes it clear that this approval can only come from God. Furthermore, the test takes place in your heart. Where’s your heart set? Who are you trying to please?

Your anointing (God’s approval of your ministry) is resting on that answer. It’s not about how much you want it; instead, it’s wrapped up in the direction your heart is taking you.

What we have to realize is that in our own power we can never be well pleasing to God. It only comes from time spent in His presence. It’s what Jesus talked about in the parable of the sower.

“Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop — thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”
Mark 4:20

As I said, the test is in your heart – where you hear and plant the Word. This requires time in the presence of the Lord. It means that we have a listening ear toward the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Then, when Gods sees the quality of the crop produced by the Word planted in our heart, He grants His approval. We will see the manifestation of the Word of God when we present the Gospel. Then the lives of the hearers are changed by that powerful Word from God.

Question: How would churches be different if we sought the approval of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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What is the Gospel – Really?

In my last post we began looking at the second Word that the Holy Spirit gave to the church. It was Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. Today we’ll look at an important “first”.

It’s always good 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 also 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.

If I’m going to demonstrate something, then I need to know what it is. 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 we simply meant that we were stirred emotionally or felt goose bumps.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

As you can see, I’m not using some isolated verse without context. This teaching runs throughout the New Testament. The Good News must be demonstrated. That demonstration can only be energized by the power of God.

I fear that too many Christians allow their faith to rest on man’s wisdom, because they’ve never seen a demonstration of the power of God.

There are so many believers that have never seen a healing or a miracle. As a result, the Good News, in many cases, has merely become an intellectual debate. Sometimes, what we call the Gospel today, is void of any power to change the direction of a life impacted by it.

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 would church look like where the true Gospel was preached?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, The Gospel

 

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Spiritual Believers

DoveIf we want God’s best, then we need to develop a rich spiritual life. Unfortunately, in this generation there are not many examples to follow.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

The phrase man without the Spirit is literally the soulish man in Greek. The New Testament actually speaks of three different kinds of Christians. This is one of those described.

First, there is the carnal or fleshly Christian. This is the type of believer who serves God according to the way he or she feels. If I feel like going to church, I’ll go. If not I’ll stay home. Their flesh is in control of every decision they make. Carnal Christians are very nominal at best.

Next there’s the soulish or natural Christian, depending upon the translation of the Bible you use. This kind of Believer serves God because he or she has made a conscious decision to serve Him. They have decided that the Lord’s way is best no matter what they feel like.

They will give their best for the Lord because they believe it’s the right thing to do. They serve the Lord with all of their soul. They are very strong in their faith, and they can accomplish a lot for the kingdom of heaven.

There is, however, another class of believer spoken of in the Word of God. That’s the spiritual Christian. He or she is the believer who lives their life by using their spirit to its fullest extent in their interaction with God.

This is the one that we either hear very little about or we mistake it for a soulish Christian who is doing great works for Christ. Over the years we have redefined many of the terms used in the Scripture. It’s time to straighten out the rough spots. In the above passage, Paul makes a clear distinction between a spiritual and soulish Christian.

According to Paul, the soulish person cannot understand life in the spirit. The Greek literally says the he does not have the power to accept them. The apostle actually uses the Greek word dunamis in this verse.

A soulish believer does not have the dunamis – the power – to receive the things that can only come by the Spirit. This person is left to rely upon earthly means of communication to receive what he needs from the Lord. This is because, as Paul writes, these things are spiritually investigated.

I want to take a few posts to talk about what Paul describes as a spiritual Christian.

Question: How far do you venture into your spiritual life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Prayer in the Spirit, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Power Walking

JogIt seems that I talk a lot about the power of God in these posts. I believe that God is restoring His church to a walk of power in our generation. Here’s something to consider in talking about this power.

First of all, let me remind you what true power is all about. Power is the ability to produce change. If there’s no change, then there’s no power. There’s no way around it. If the power of God is manifest, then lives are changed.

As I begin to walk in this power, something new begins to happen. As my life begins to change, I start to get the world’s attention. They begin seeing something working in my life that’s beyond my ability.

It’s this very change that will attract people to Christ. At that point I will not need to convince them how awesome the Lord is – they’ll see it for themselves.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…
Colossians 1:10-11

This is a very interesting section of Scripture. It tells us to walk worthy of the Lord. That should be the desire of every Christian. How does Paul describe this worthy way of life?

The first two indicators are pretty much self-evident and are the ones that are always emphasized. They are bearing fruit and growing in our knowledge of God.

But what about the next line? One of the ways we’re to live a worthy life is to be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might. To live worthy of the Lord is to walk in power.

We’re not to just talk about power. We must demonstrate the power of the living God. In order to do this I must know Him in His power. So I must be in an intimate relationship with Him. Only then will I experience His power flowing through me.

That’s where we miss it sometimes. We want the easy way.

“Just give me a prayer formula that always works.”

It’s not a formula, but intimacy with the Holy Spirit. That’s how we access the power of God in our lives. We have to take the time to build a relationship with Him.

This is what the world needs to see in us. Not a bunch of people who merely talk about how good God is. They need to see His goodness, power, and love in action. That’s what will draw people to Christ in these last days.

Paul summarizes this concept.

To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Colossians 1:29

That was Paul’s priority, to know Christ in the riches of His power. This leaves me with a choice. Now that I know what true power is…do I want it? If I do, then I need to plug into the source – Christ Himself.

Question: Am I willing to do whatever it takes to walk in God’s power?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2016 in Power of God, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Walk of Power

High VoltageIntimacy with Christ. Why is it so important that I become intimate with Christ? Because, like we saw in my last post – He is the beaming out of God’s glory. So, if I can get close to Him, then I’ll find what I need in order to get into the flow of the Lord’s anointing.

The flow of power. There was a woman who figured this out before any of Jesus’ disciples did. She had a sickness in her body that none of the doctors of her day could heal.

One day she heard that Jesus was coming to her town. When she heard this, the Holy Spirit quickened faith on the inside of her. She soon had a plan to see Him because she knew that if she could just touch the Lord, she would be healed.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
Mark 5:30

As soon as the woman touched Him, Jesus realized that power had flowed out from Him. That’s a great revelation. As it is in nature, so also in the spirit. Power has a flow associated with it. It can travel from one person to another.

Making contact with Christ. This is an astounding truth to grasp onto. True power flows from Christ to those who touch Him. This means that it’s available to me. If I can just touch Him – make contact with Him – then I can receive His power in my life. That would change everything.

Think about it. What would this mean to you?

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.
2 Peter 1:3

Everything means everything!!! This verse explains that God’s power touches all that pertains to this life – finances, healing, etc. But just as important it includes my spiritual life – godliness.

The fact of the matter is that true power changes everything that it touches. The question this creates is; do we want everything to change? Do we want our world to turn upside-down?

This is what trips us up most of the time. We only want certain changes, not all of them. We want our finances to change for the better. We want our body to be healed. But…then again, do I really want to watch less TV and have a deeper prayer life? This power affects it all. That’s why we hesitate to go for it.

In order to walk in the manifestation of God’s power, I have to be open for everything to change. It’s an all or nothing proposition. I have to come to God with the expectation that my whole life will change when He touches me.

Question: How much change are we willing to go through for God’s power?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2016 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our All-Powerful God

LightningI’ve been posting about our need to walk in the power of God. It’s beyond question that we serve a God of power. He doesn’t have to merely talk about it. In the Old Testament He’s called God Almighty – the all-powerful God.

In referring to Him we say that He’s omnipotent. That means that He has unlimited and universal power. There’s nothing that God can’t accomplish through the working of His power.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Hebrews 1:3

This verse literally says that Christ is the beaming out of God’s glory. The Son manifests everything that God is. Part of the glory of God is His power. That tells me that true power is found only in Christ. That’s why it’s so important that we spend time with Him. Paul understood this concept intimately.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11

How badly do you want to walk in the resurrection power of Christ? Do you know Christ in the power of His resurrection? This is the unbridled power of God that raised Christ from the dead.

The good news is that you can know Christ in this way. If it was possible for Paul, then it’s within your reach, if you’re willing to put forth the effort that an intimate relationship with Christ requires.

I’ve found that if you talk about power enough, then people will send you money just to hear your words. Sadly, there are many others who’ve made this same discovery. Most of them have found a lucrative place on Christian TV. They’re getting rich, while God’s people remain sick, poor, weak, and bound by sin.

My goal is to help the church to once again walk in spiritual power. Simply put, I’m not satisfied with the talk of power that’s prevalent in the church today. It’s time for the church to accurately portray who Christ is.

Jesus is Savior, Healer, Redeemer, Provider, and Life-Giver. I want to be a catalyst for change. I want to see lives changed by the power of the Spirit of God. I want to be able to understand both the Scripture and the power of God.

Only as we are willing to spend time with the Lord, will we see the power we desperately need. That’s why the Holy Spirit is always trying to draw us into His presence. That’s the place of power.

Question: What will it take for us to walk this road?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2016 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Price of the Power

MeterI’ve been talking, lately, about the power of God. If we’re going to walk in true spiritual power, then we need to stop talking about it, and admit our lack. We must start with a true, Biblical knowledge of what power is and how to use it.

In the New Testament, the Greek word for power is dunamis. It’s the root of our English words dynamic, dynamite, and dynamo. When we study how this word is used in Scripture, we find some interesting things. First of all, we’re faced with the fact that there’s nothing new. Jesus dealt with the same issues that trouble us, when He talked with the religious leaders of His day.

In Matthew, chapter 22, we’re told of an encounter that Jesus had with the Sadducees. They came to Him with a question. It wasn’t that they needed Jesus’ advice. The Sadducees were a Jewish religious group who didn’t believe in the resurrection power of God.

They had a trick question that they used frequently to prove their point. It was about a woman who had seven husbands. They asked; who would be her husband in the resurrection? They were trying to trick Jesus into saying something foolish.

The Lord showed that in actuality the point was not about the question, but about their hearts. Jesus answered their question in a way they didn’t expect. By doing so, He went straight to the source of their problem.

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”
Matthew 22:29

The word error in the above verse is a Greek word that literally means roaming from the path. These two issues that Jesus spoke about are the root cause of us leaving the path of truth. The first is; not knowing the Scripture.

It’s very easy to fall into error if you don’t know the Word of God. The second problem is; not understanding the power of God. Every error of false teaching can be traced to one of those two foundations.

Are we guilty of this kind of error? Have we begun to roam from the truth? If we don’t have a proper understanding of the power of God, then the answer is yes. We must understand that the power of God produces change.

That’s true power. If there’s no change taking place in the lives of believers under a ministry, then no amount of talk can produce any power. It’s not about goose-bumps or emotions. Were they healed? Were their lives changed?

The road to seeing the power of God at work is a hard one. It requires humility. The Sadducees of Jesus’ day were not willing to admit their lack, and come to Christ. We must lay aside our pride, and come to the place of brokenness before the Lord.

Question: How far are you willing to change in order to see God’s power work through you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2016 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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