Book Review: ‘Tyrant’ by Brian Godawa

One thing I must say at the outset is that this book, Tyrant, by Mr. Brian Godawa was astounding in bringing forth well researched history and the style in which it was done. Simply reading the “Must Read” on viii had me excited to begin reading a historical-fiction book. Mind you, I haven’t read a fiction book in years (and was committed to the notion I prefer nonfiction). Not so much anymore.   Tyrant

Not only does Brian write in such a prolific way, he also has quite the imagination and brings out details in a way that keeps you involved in the story. The last “Christian fiction” novel I read was most likely something by Frank Perretti (which I enjoyed but categorize as simply fiction). And while the imagery of the Spiritual warfare many share a similar tone, Mr. Godawa constructs historical scenes mixed with such spirituality that allows for an intellectually satisfying journey (despite possibly disagreeing on our conceptual understand of the “Spirit world”).

‘Tyrant’ starts out in early AD 64, wherein we began to see the historic fulfillment of the “coming of the Lord” (as Biblically understood). I enjoyed Mr. Godawa’s highlighting of the narrative perspective of the “war of the Seed” which began at Genesis 3:15 and finds it’s conclusion in Romans 16:20 and Revelation 12:7-12 (and he did mention he gives more details in that regarding in his series, ‘Chronicles of the Nephilim’).

An interest detail I might like to talk through with Mr. Brian Godawa (look forward to a possible future podcast on MGW Radio) would be our seeming agreement regarding the work of Satan in and through the Roman-Jewish authorities in the 1st century. In speaking about Satan, or Apollyon as he is referred to throughout ‘Tyrant’, it is said, “I was the Great Adversary in Yahweh’s Heavenly Court, they called me the “Accuser of the Brethren”. Well the Nazarene stripped me of that power and cast me down to this stinking exile of dirt…I have no legal jurisdiction over the children of God…I no longer have power to prosecute, but I have the ability to persecute”. Following that point, Mr. Godawa details a Jewish authority remarking, “I have not yet used the power of Rome”. Now, moving past the “Divine Heavenly Council” (which I have come to disagree with). I am wondering if Mr. Godawa would agree with understand the binding, loosing, and destroying of the “strong man” as detailed by Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 12 as involving exactly that – the Romans and the Jews working together to destroy the Christians (which becomes self-destroying effort). More of a historical narrative, I would highlight this as the Spiritual tone behind the “thousand years” of Revelation chapter 20. God willing, Mr. Godawa might talk in that regard.

I could truly go on and on detailing the immense amount of insights Brian shared throughout this book (that also explains why the notes in the back are pretty much half of the actual book). He went into details about abortion policies in Rome at that time, “gender-inclusive religions elimination sexual differences”, and the horrors of “infant exposure”. He pained the proper ugly picture of historic Rome’s religious and cultural influences. And he marks out Rome as the “iron and clay beast” of the Book of Daniel. He easily explained how the imagery of the “mark of the beast” should be understood (cf. Revelation 13:16-18; Deuteronomy 6:6-8), namely as Spiritual fornication with Rome. Mr. Godawa spoke about the polytheistic religions of Rome and highlighted points that should have cause us to reflect on our theology today. Consider these insights:

“Roman polytheists saw the world as a drama of the God’s in conflict with differing intents and motivations. For the Jew, Yahweh placed good kings in power to bless and wicked kings to chastise. But, in either case, Yahweh was accomplishing His purposes, and His will could not be thwarted (cf. Job 12:16-25; 42:1-2).”

“Polytheism appeared to be an inclusive religion of tolerance, but really, it was a jealous god. An all-encompassing system of Spiritual slavery”.

To bring this review to a conclusion I simply want to highlight some really great details that Mr. Godawa brought out in ‘Tyrant’, that I imagine many in the theological circles I navigate while appreciate.

In speaking about “Heaven and Earth” as a “covenant term”, Mr. Godawa notes, “In the Torah, God used the concept of a poetic metaphor for the covenant. The Old Covenant and its elements of temple and sacrifice were likened to the old heavens and earth. The New Covenant would be a shaking of that old world and the establishment of a new heavens and earth”. He also mentions in another place, “The shaking of the heavens and earth, the failure of the sun, moon, and stars was all figurative language that the Hebrew prophets used to describe the collapse of earthly regimes, and the spiritual powers behind them. Jeremiah used the same symbols to describe the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians. Isaiah used the same symbols to describe the fall of Babylon and of Judah. Ezekiel used the same symbols for the destruction of Egypt”.

And of course as a Preterist, it was exciting to read proper theology of the “last days” in such a format. Mr. Godawa goes on to point out that the 42 months of Revelation 13:5-7, the Great Tribulation, is the Roman-Jewish War of AD 64-70. In the Notes in the back of the book, Mr. Godowa provides extensive historical research regarding “The End of What?” Also, he provides insights regarding the Preterist view in the back of the book. I rather enjoyed the following insight he shared about “recapitulation” as found in the Book of Revelation. “You have to think like a Hebrew to understand the symbols. The judgement is severe. But the repetition of numbers and judgements reflects a common technique used by Jewish writers called recapitulation…It a cyclical repetition, a way of saying the same thing in three different ways. The seals, the trumpets, and the bowls are all referring to the same judgements from three different perspectives…Each seal, trumpet, and bowl judgment provides a different perspective and adds more detail to the picture as it progresses toward the final judgement. It operates as a kind of spiraling whirlpool of meaning, not a chronological order of events”.  

I do indeed look forward to a future dialogue with Mr. Brian Godawa. To go over some details mentioned herein and to gain his response to what historical books/ information helped him put all the historical details together in such a way?

Get your hands on the book. Here is a link for purchase, https://godawa.com/books/chronicles-of-the-apocalypse/tyrant-rise-of-the-beast/

I’ll conclude with two points to ponder from the book, which clearly exemplifies how reading his books can invigorate your missionality in understanding and following after Jesus Christ.

“They spent too much time and energy quibbling over petty doctrines among themselves – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, the Zealots – rather than achieving real action and reform”.

“…it takes more than political discontent, emotional zeal, and a charismatic leader to create an effective result. It takes true Believers – and real strategy”.

Many thanks to Brian for this enjoyable read!

For the Glory of God,

Michael Miano
Pastor, Blue Point Bible Church

 

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The Book of Virtues: A Book Review on Memorial Day

Many who know me have heard me press in on 2 Peter chapter 1 wherein we read a list of things we who are of the Body of Christ are called to possess and increase in. I have developed a system of sorts focused in on intentionally growing in those things. You can access the 2 Peter 1 “Growth Chart” at the following link, https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/2-peter-1-growth-chart/

Recently I marked out the desire to increase in virtue, and ended up, The Book of Virtues compiled by William J. Bennett. Mr. Bennett offers insights on and excerpts from various pieces of literature that he marked out as teachings of “moral literacy” and reinforcing “character formation”. Speaking to our contemporary societal situation, I agree with Mr. Bennett that, “Moorings and anchors come in handy in life, moral anchors and moorings have never been more necessary”.

Being that today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day that we have marked out to remember the courage of those who have fought and defended the freedoms we citizens enjoy, it is fitting to speak on virtues. Also, just last evening I sat in on a discussion at The Blue Point Bible Church that mentioned the need for increased and objective virtue and morality to be instilled in our education system. So, I am glad to offer up this review of the book and also help continue a necessary increase in the moral reasoning of our contemporary world.

Mr. Bennett marked out 10 virtues and provided various anecdotes to reinforce each on. Self-control, compassion, responsibility, friendship, work, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, and faith all in that that order are the 10 virtues marked out. As you may notice some of that virtues are also included in the list provided in 2 Peter chapter 1. Therefore, it is at this time that before you continue on reading I encourage you to begin to examine yourself and prayerfully ask the Lord to convict you wherein you might need to truly increase.

What I will dofor the remainder of this blog is detail insights shared throughout The Book of Virtues. If anything piques your interest, I encourage you to investigate it further. Nothing a simple Google search cannot help with.

  • Self – control

“Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master and you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty”. – William Bennett

Aesop’s fable, “The Flies and the Honey Pot” details not destroying ourselves for the sake of quick little pleasures. Read the fable here – https://fablesofaesop.com/the-flies-and-the-honey-pot.html

Surely reading through our nation’s first president, George Washington’s Rules of Civility in Conversations Among Men could infuse an interesting challenge in decency and morality in our contemporary society. Here is an reading through those details, https://managers.usc.edu/files/2015/05/George-Washingtons-Rules.pdf

 

  • Compassion

“What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” – George Elliot
Also written by George Elliot is the poem that challenges each of us so much that I recently mentioned it in a sermon. Count that Day Lost. Read here — https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/count-that-day-lost/

 

  • Responsibility

“There is no end to the good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit for it”.

I was impressed to find so many documents and resources that had to do with American principles and civil rights. Consider for example, the American’s Creed, written by William Tyler Page; “I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed, a democracy in a republic, a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.”

Also consider looking into how the following mentioned writings and resources encourage you to a greater responsibility within our society; The Federalist Papers, Declaration of Independence, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter from Birmingham Jail, Plato on responsibility, and Frederick Douglass’s “The Conscience of a Nation”.

Of course, each of us should be mindful of the often mentioned quote by Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. As well take note of what C.S. Lewis said in his writing “Men Without Chests”; “…if we fail to pass along specific standards of right and wrong, or what it worthwhile or worthless, admirable or ignoble, than we must share blame for the consequent failings of character”.

 

  • Friendship

Being fair and honest there wasn’t much mentioned in this chapter on this virtue that compelled me to take notes.

 

 

  • Courage

“We become brave by doing brave acts”. – Aristotle
“Courage is knowing what to fear”. – Plato

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, then to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much neither suffer much…” – Teddy Roosevelt

Surely the poem “Doors of Daring” by Henry can Dyke in sure to challenge us to be courageous and daring. Read the poem at the following link, https://www.poeticous.com/henry-van-dyke/doors-of-daring

 

  • Perseverance

Mr. Bennet mentioned the commonly cited phrase, “Just do the next right thing” as a method of reinforcing perseverance. Also, John Locke noted, “Fortitude (which is synonymous with perseverance) is the guard to every other virtue”.

 

  • Honesty

“Dishonesty would have no role to play in a world that revered reality and was inhabited by fully rational creates”.

“An honest man is the noblest work of God”. – Alexander Pope

 

  • Loyalty

I was of course encouraged to find the mention of Biblical stories the likes of Jonathan and David or Naomi and Ruth as detailing the virtue of loyalty. Amen!

Mr. Bennett also makes mention of historian and professor, Richard A. Gabriel and speaks of “ethical loyalty”. A Google search about Mr. Gabriel and ethical loyalty showed up to be insightful and I would encourage you in some free reading time to do the same. Mr. Gabriel as he speaks about war tactics and loyalty says, “In essence, to be an ethical soldier is to do one’s duty as to what is ethically right and to know why those ethics bind. Duty is not to be blindly tied to following orders”.

 

  • Faith

The obvious and blessed mention of “theological virtues” as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:13 includes faith, so we read, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”.

Mr. Bennet concluded thoughts on virtue with details about faith and faithfulness. He shared the Jewish tale of “The Honest Disciple”. Here is how it goes;

“A rabbi once asked his disciples, “What would you do if you found a money purse in the road?” Said the first, “I’d find the owner and return it.” Thought the rabbi, “His answer was in haste; does he really mean it?” Said the second disciple, “If no one saw me find it, I would keep it.” Thought the rabbi, “He is honest, but wicked-hearted.” Said the third disciple, after pondering, “I would be tempted to keep it. I would pray to God for the strength to resist temptation and perform a righteous action.” thought the rabbi, “Now there is a man I can trust!””

 

May God provide the wisdom as we continue possess and intentional increase in these virtues. May we continue to glorify our Lord Jesus Christ.

In and through Him,

Michael Miano

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THINKING THROUGH A NARRATIVE SOTERIOLOGY (#1)

BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION

In the past couple months, I have engaged much discussion pertaining to soteriology (the doctrines of salvation). In March 2018, I participated in an online debate against the “Israel Only View”, wherein I presented a case for understanding the continuance of Biblical salvation by developing the Biblical narrative and the overlapping meta-narrative, and I also asserted my Calvinistic leanings. Also, in March 2018, I presented two lectures at the Examining Crossroads: Biblical Controversies Conference regarding salvation – Conceptual Salvation (in which I explained that the Hebrew notions of salvation were oftentimes pictorial and abstract) and Soma Salvation (which detailed the salvation of a “body” of people as expressed in and through the New Testament; oftentimes understood as “resurrection of the dead”).

Due to the variety of interpretative styles that are brought to the details of Scripture, in my presentations I have harped on the need to develop a narrative-historical interpretation. This interpretative style not only runs against the all too popular method of “proof-texting” (which lacks context), it also stands contrary to the historical- grammatical method of interpretation, the continuous-historical method, and the redemptive-movement method. Many have seemingly missed how these interpretative methods influence their own interpretations, not to mention the various principles that are outlined through each of the methods. However, the narrative-historical method of interpretation is no easy effort, and often requires detailed explanations (akin to storytelling), rather than the easy answers and superficial responses many have developed and offered up (either by assumption of “Tradition”). The narrative-historical approach allows for us to truly think through the details as presented in the context of the story.

THE BIBLICAL CONTEXT OF SALVATION

The consistent framework of understanding salvation as revealed through the Scriptures has been referred to as “historia salutis” (the summary of salvation history).  As I have studied through the topic of salvation and have come to have almost an obsession with developing the Biblical narrative, I have realized how tightly woven together other doctrines are with the details of our “common salvation” (cf. Jude 3). For example, the congregation at The Blue Point Bible Church recently participated in a group discussion about the influence of Preterism on the doctrines of salvation. Noting things such as the importance of the Old Testament influence on the New Testament, the different tenses of salvation found in the New Testament (simultaneously being saved and waiting for salvation), and much more – many of us admitted that coming to understand Preterism changed or enhanced our view of salvation.

A PRESUPPOSITIONAL CALVINIST

Admittedly, despite the all-too-common frustration many seem to have with the doctrines of Calvinism, I have felt rather comfortable in my “Calvinistic presuppositions” until more recently.  I preached an entire series on Calvinism while I was studying through the Institutes of the Christian Religion back in 2014-2015. My Calvinistic leanings have not gone un-challenged both than and today. You can read an article I wrote back in 2015 on the topic at the following link, https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/always-reforming-confusion-clarity-controversy/

Many students of Scripture seeking a “ring of truth” while examining doctrines of Calvinism have offered up differing explanations of the details. Navigating Calvinistic circles of influence, it’s common to hear people speak of what point Calvinist they are (“I am a __ point Calvinist). This is usually done to speak to which details of Calvinistic doctrine one holds to (also highlighting the tenets not held to). I had also read a great book a while back called, PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery, wherein he offered a different acronym (PROOF instead of TULIP) and clarifying details, as well as some challenges to the systematic theology as offered up by 15th century reformer, John Calvin. In my humble attempt to understand these things I have come out saying that “I am a presuppositional Calvinist”, which means I generally agree with the doctrines of salvation as noted in the Canons of Dort, and/or summarized through the acronym TULIP.

So…what I would like to do through this blog, which may become a series of blogs, is go through the systematic details of understanding salvation all the while surveying the Scriptures through a narrative-historical approach. As advocate of such approach, Dr. Andrew Perriman has said, “The narrative-historical approach to interpretation of Scripture provides us with a much more rigorous and credible connection with Scripture than the selective, reductive and distorting approach of much modern evangelical theology (paraphrased)”. That being so, our study will take on a few dimensions – looking at and examining various aspects of the redemptive story that graces the pages of Scripture, proving/ examining certain doctrinal tenets, and arriving at conclusions based on the developed narrative – not presuppositions or “proof texts”.

THE CREATION OF LIGHT IN THE MIDST OF A FORMLESS & VOID EARTH

A failure to read Genesis 1:1 in context of the whole of Scripture and to properly assess “heaven and earth” as a term used for God’s people has caused many to assume to that the “Genesis creation account” is about the beginning of the planet and/or the universe. “Rightly dividing” the creation account allows for us to begin a healthy understand of what God was doing in and through His covenant people to further develop His working in and through them. This has led me to embracing a view referred to as “Covenant Creation”.

Approaching Genesis chapter 1 through the lens of “Covenant Creation” highlights God’s sovereignty in calling and creating a people for Himself. In the ancient near eastern world (ultimately where the Book of Genesis finds its emergence), the people would develop cuneiform tablets called “temple texts” that highlighted the sovereignty of a certain God over certain things. When we look at those “temple texts” (many of which were unearthed during excavations in the 1950’s), we can see similarities between them and the Book of Genesis. This gives us good reason to read the Book of Genesis and the details therein as a “temple text” considering the historical context and audience relevance rather than the modern presupposed perspectives. Rather than obsessing about and noting all the confusion within Christian circles regarding what day God created certain things and the specifics of how long the days were, a proper reading of Genesis chapter 1 highlights all that the One True God is sovereign over (all the while appreciating the 7-day structure of the “temple text”). Outside of all the debated features of the text, one thing is for sure, the sovereignty of God is presupposed by the text (the silliness of modern atheism is defeated by understanding how the ancients viewed and valued the wonder of creation).

As the term “heaven and earth” denotes, God’s people, have a dual reality. God’s people are called by heaven all the while having purpose and a living situation on earth. Genesis 1:2 details what that living situation was like at the beginning – “formless and void, darkness over the face of the waters. However, God’s Spirit hovered over the waters”. Doing an in-depth study into the Hebraic words used in Genesis 1:1-3 reveals so much imagery and covenant details. The imagery of the head of a river (Hebrew word “bereshit”), a “tohu wabohu eretz” (formless and void land), a darkness over the waters, and the hovering of God’s Spirit, all point to God doing a work in the midst of a chaotic environment. Some have come to refer to this work of God as a “covenant creation”. Of great importance is that God’s first creative act in Genesis 1:4 is the creation of light. This is not to be confused with a physical/ material light (as is later mentioned in Genesis 1:14-19). Rather, this light as cited and detailed by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:6 is the light that brings awareness and knowledge of God (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:5). It is the giving of that light that represents God forming something of value from the previous condition of being “formless and void”.

The creation of Adam as the “image of God” in Genesis 1:26-28 also bears striking resemblance to the image-creating and image-bearing of the ancient near east. Not only did the ANE “temple text” highlight all that the certain god was sovereign over, the “temple text” also made known what image should be used to represent said god. The Genesis creation account departs from being similar to other ANE temple texts in that it elevates humanity over other creatures, and humanity (specifically the progeny of Adam) is made to display the image of God. Unfortunately, many have tried to create a consistent theology of putting all men in the image-bearing identity (all men in Adam), which must be repudiated as inconsistent (we will deal with that as we go through this series of articles- simply by following the context of the Biblical narrative).

“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (Genesis 2:4)”.

ADAM AS ISRAEL’S STORY

Reading through the unfortunate details of Genesis chapters 2-3, with a healthy understanding of the Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation, should cause us to see what sort of story is being developed. Simply put, the creation of “heaven and earth” and the story of Adam highlights the beginning of Israel’s story, not the story of all mankind. This is an important and challenging concept, especially as so many have come to believe that Adam’s story is all humanity’s story. Therefore, our coming to grips with what is taking place through the Genesis creation account, and specifically Adam, will cause us to see divergent approaches to salvation as made known through the Scriptures. A proper frame of reference and following the historical context will demonstrate how and why the Gospel went forth to the Jew first, and then the Gentile (cf. Romans 1:16).

DARKNESS/IDOLATRY –  LIGHT/TRUTH

What this narrative approach does to our study in soteriology is it removes the all to easy approach of demanding that whatever happened to Adam and his progeny is the story and identity of all humanity (specifically, “dead in sin”, cf. Romans chapter 6). The Blue Point Bible Church Constitution states, “We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker, but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint, but choice; being by nature utterly void of what holiness required the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin…”.

Being fair, this is a citation from a Baptist Manual going back to 1853, and our congregation has seen much growth and thus changed in doctrinal details since that time. However, I believe us, and others are still prone to a subtle presupposed view of that quoted statement. Is it true? Prayerfully at this point you are catching my point, I will respond with a yes and a no.

So many get caught up in the discussion as to whether or not people existed prior to Adam (which seemingly involves a study of anthropology, history, and/or science). My goal is to move us past that, since so much has been done to prove that, into considering the outworking of how Adam represented “covenant life”, rather than the often-presupposed responses. How did Adam come to “covenant life”? How did Adam die to that reality? What would happen next?

Before we get to how Adam came to “covenant life” and his being the Image of God (which again I will assert becomes the story of “Israel of the flesh” through the Old Covenant), we must consider his state prior to that. Of course, many will assert that Adam was “uncreated”. While I agree with that notion regarding his position in relation to God, however I do not believe anything in the text speaks to Adam not being materially created (it’s imperative to realize the theology behind the creation of man in Genesis 2:7-8 –  is NOT material creation). Dr. John Walton, in his book, “The Lost World of Genesis One”, goes to great lengths in detailing that the non-creation in Genesis is speaking about the lack of function/purpose in regard to worshiping God, not the non-existence of material creation (this is also consistent with understanding the Hebrew terms for “darkness” and “formless and void” which seemingly necessitate human life before Adam). Simply put, prior to God bringing forth light, all (including Adam) were stuck in an idolatrous world (“in the world without God, without hope” cf. Ephesians 2:12).

If “darkness” is idolatry and “light” is worship of the One True God, as I believe is demonstrated from the text, then the next question becomes, “How does Adam come into the light?”

It would seem that all throughout the Scriptures, man is beset by sin (weakened not necessarily dead), oftentimes wandering in idolatry (darkness).  So, it also seems that God brings forth His light (Truth), and it shines offering mankind the opportunity to pursue, walk toward, and dwell in it. The determining factor seems to be what man sets his mind on and pursues. Those with good and honest hearts, God strengthens and draws in. Those steeped in idolatry and leaning upon their own understanding (cf. Proverbs 3:5), being unreasonable and set against the Truth, God rewards in keeping with their idolatry, and so they stay stuck in darkness (cf. Proverbs 4:19; Ezekiel 14:4; John 3:19-20).

CONCLUSION

If you have followed my studies and teachings for some time, you should have noticed a shift. I am becoming more and more convinced that it is improper to develop a systematic approach to New Covenant soteriology based upon what was revealed in and through Adam (as I have previously said and asserted a few times). Namely, because what is revealed through the story of Adam is the story of the Old Covenant. Sure, God’s covenant people were called from utter darkness by His creating the means for their salvation through His sovereignty and election. They were then subjected to death/ futility for the purpose of a greater reality (cf. Romans 8:20-21; Galatians 3:19-22). However, it seems that within that covenant, many were (and through the call of the Gospel today are) invited, however few were chosen to be His elect in that first century, and pertaining to that election, it would seem it was revealed through those who sought God with a good conscience and pursued His purposes (cf. Luke 8:15).

Thanks for following through these thoughts. Prayerfully, I have demonstrated a case for God’s sovereignty as expressed in and through the Genesis creation account. Also, I have marked out a difference regarding salvation for those “In Adam” and for those who come to Christ through the call of the Gospel today and have challenged some (if not all) of the presupposed views of being “dead in sin” due to identity in Adam. Lastly, I offered a contextually approach to the details of the Genesis creation account and the display and covenant and light as God’s sovereign work which calls all men to pursue Him.

Written by Pastor Michael Miano, The Blue Point Bible Church

WORKS CITED

Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion

Walton, John. Dr. The Lost World of Genesis One
review – https://voice.dts.edu/review/john-walton-the-lost-world-of-genesis-one/

Morrow, Jeff. http://beyondcreationscience.com/index.php?pr=Creation_as_Temple_Building

Davis, Benjamin. https://www.academia.edu/6675210/GENESIS_1_1-2_3_AS_A_THEOLOGICAL_BLUEPRINT_FOR_GOD_S_CREATIONAL_ABODE_A_PROPOSAL

Scollard, Brett. http://gracemccook.org/blog/genesis-1-2-as-a-temple-text/

 

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4/19 – Creative Leadership Conference with Pastor Ed Young

Yesterday I attended the Creative Leadership Conference at Church Unleashed. The conference speaker is renowned writer and pastor, Ed Young. It has been said that he specializes in communicating complex concepts is a simple way (plus his humor is contagious). It’s safe to say the shared time was a blessing.

With this blog, I’d like to just detail some highlights from the conference that prayerfully may challenge or edify you (and your leadership).

As I walked in I noticed there was a set up of The Lord’s Table on the stage. Just then, Pastor Young began to explain that “The Lord’s Table is at the center of all that we do”. He went on to create an analogy of using the church as a restaurant and The Lord’s Table details our menu and work.  He used the 3 chairs to symbolize 3 different types of people in the Church – Chair One: Those who don’t know Christ and newcomers/ Chair Two: Those with a invigorating fresh faith, zealous to serve/ Chair Three: those in the church who have moved on to maturity (Hebrews 6:1).  I rather enjoyed this analogy and explanation, as it challenged us to consider the elements at the Table and how we are offering the Table to each chair (in essence, discipleship). He also noted, “Every great restaurant has a team of people”. Together Everyone Adds More (TEAM). Surely that was exhilarating to hear as we have just become to form and develop certain “committees” at The Blue Point Bible Church. Glory to God!

Pastor Young went on to speak about work in ministry as “brutiful” (brutal and beautiful). He explained the glories and the stresses of serving as a pastor. A couple of insights he shared about the pastorate were: “An hour of study behind every minute I am in the pulpit” and “Always pastor your church as if it is double or triple its size”. Also, he said all meetings should develop “What if, What is…” (For example, What if we did it this way, then consider what is the way we currently do it. He spoke about creating a culture of critique (not criticism). He went on to speak about the importance of canceling superfluous activity (if it’s not bringing in Chair One people, why…?). Simply put, say no to time wasters!

Ed went on the detail the importance of having a vision and sharing a vision. He remarked, “Talk about the vision. You cannot talk about it enough. Vision, vision, vision”. For churches that may not have the resources to bring certain aspect of the vision to fruition, Pastor Young said, “Never allow resources to hem in creativity”.

All in all, the conference was a great time of fellowship and encouragement alongside other pastors on Long Island, including quite a few laughs. The text that was mentioned and that continued to come to my mind as I listened was Hebrews 6:1; “Let us therefore move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity…”. Ed Young challenged us that, “You’re either serving or swerving”. And lastly, the following website will serve as a tool to further creative leadership, www.creativepastors.com

May God be glorified through creative, healthy, and mature churches!

In Service to Him,
Pastor Michael Miano

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Conference Lecture Handout: “Conceptual Salvation”

This handout goes along with the presentation I shared on March 23rd, 2018 – the first night of the Examining Crossroads Bible Conference at The Blue Point Bible Church. You can listen to that lecture at the following link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGmjpHk-9nA
“So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him (Hebrews 9:28)”.

The NARRATIVE-HISTORICAL APPROACH to salvation otherwise known as “HISTORIA SALUTIS” is…

 

THE SALVATION NARRATIVE

Hosea 13-14; Amos 9:11-13

Isaiah 2:1-5; 11 – 12;  25:8 – 27:1 – 12; (“Servant Songs – 42 – 53 cf 42:1-26; 45:14, 23; 49:5-6, 23; 51:4-5; 52:7)  56:1-8, 66;

Micah 4:1-5

Jeremiah 31:27-40

Ezekiel 36:1-15, 16-38; 39:25-29; 47:1-13, 13-23

Zechariah 2:1-11; 8:1-23; 9:9-17; 14:1-11

Matthew 13:31- 35;  21:33 – 46; 22:1-14

 

What’s the difference between a NARRATIVE & a METANARRATIVE?

 

“ORDO SALUTIS” is the….

(* Hint – Titus 3:5-8 & Romans 8:29 – 30)

 

What is THEOSIS?

 

 

 

 

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Peter 1:2-4)”.

 

 

\I will be talking more on details regarding “Conceptual Salvation” in weeks to come on the Hairy Ticks Variety Show on Tuesdays at TFCRadio.org. Also, feel free to interact with me on social media and/or email at mianogonewild@yahoo.com

In Service to Christ our Lord,
Pastor Michael Miano

 

 

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Jew and Gentile Reconciled. A Review of Bryan E. Lewis’s book

For the last couple days, I have been sharing quotes on my social media from a book I have just finished called Jew and Gentile Reconciled: An Exploration of the Ten Northern Tribes in Pauline literature. I have appreciated the various writings I have come across by Bible teacher and academic, Mr. Bryan E. Lewis. This book was full of scholarly notations, provided great historical and textual context, and highlighted a topic often confused in theological studies. Mr. Lewis brings us through details regarding the terms of “Jew” and “Gentile” (some of which I detail in this blog), he highlights how the terms are used throughout Biblical literature, and of great importance in my studies, he highlights the confusion many have brought to the study, specifically noting the distorted views that have been offered through Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology.

WHO ARE THE GENTILES
Mr. Lewis wrote, “Paul’s quotation of Hosea has largely been understood as only applicable to first – century Gentiles, even though the original meaning was directed to the northern tribes of Israel.” It’s all to easy for contemporary Bible teachers to assert that the mention of Gentiles spoke to nations outside of Israel. Not so fast. This lends to recent studies I have been engaging. To add a witness to the great insights offered by Mr. Lewis, I would recommend the sermon by Pastor David Curtis, of Berean Bible Church, called “Who Are The Gentiles?”.

http://www.bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/ephesians/eph-02_17-18_who-are-the-gentiles.html

SWALLOWED AMONG THE GENTILES
Mr. Lewis went into detail regarding the prophecy that was uttered in Hosea, ultimately that the northern tribes would be swallowed up by the Gentiles (Hosea 8:8) and would become not His people (Hosea 1:8). He writes, “…the northern tribes would become an eclectic mix of people with no discrete national identity, scattered to the Gentile nations, and thus, outside the covenant community of YHWH – effectively becoming Gentiles”. Looking at 2 Kings chapter 17, Mr. Lewis also shares historical mention of those details from 1st century historian Josephus, who in Antiquities writes;

“But now the Cutheans, who removed into Samaria, [for that is the name they have been called by to this time, because they were brought out of the country called Cuthah, which is a country of Persia, and there is a river of the same name in it,] each of them, according to their nations, which were in number five, brought their own gods into Samaria, and by worshipping them, as was the custom of their own countries, they provoked Almighty God to be angry and displeased at them, for a plague seized upon them, by which they were destroyed; and when they found no cure for their miseries, they learned by the oracle that they ought to worship Almighty God, as the method for their deliverance. So they sent ambassadors to the king of Assyria, and desired him to send them some of those priests of the Israelites whom he had taken captive. And when he thereupon sent them, and the people were by them taught the laws, and the holy worship of God, they worshipped him in a respectful manner, and the plague ceased immediately; and indeed they continue to make use of the very same customs to this very time, and are called in the Hebrew tongue Cutlans, but in the Greek tongue Samaritans.”

Furthermore, Mr. Lewis notes that, “…much speculation – both historical and theological in nature – has evolved over the past two millennia about the precise identity and location of the “ten lost tribes”. Where and who are the descendants of the formerly deported Israelites? In my opinion, based on the date available to us, the answer is: they assimilated into the Gentile nations via the Assyrian conquest and became regarded as Gentiles because of their various losses of distinctive identity”.

The point he continues to lead into is that due to the “Assyrianization” of the northern tribes, in the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, “…the Gentile nations come to salvation concurrently with the restoration and ingathering of Israel (all twelve tribes). Mr. Lewis quotes Christian theologian and philosopher, Jack Cottrell, “The consensus seems to be that the ten “lost” tribes’ permanent exile has so intermingled them with the Gentiles that the evangelization of the group will necessarily involve the evangelization of the other”.

THE PROPHETIC HOPE OF ISRAEL
In my studies I have come to demand interpretation of the Gospel as the fulfillment of the “hope of Israel” that was made known through the Law and the Prophets (cf. Acts 24:14). I readily note that the fulfillment would also be done in a rather mysterious way (cf.1 Peter 1:10-12), however, that should not allow for all the development of historically detached views of the Gospel. The method through which Mr. Lewis consistently applies the details of the Biblical narrative was so refreshing to read. In talking about Pauline literature, he notes, “Paul’s motive was to create a “theological narrative”, which had immediate significance for his own contemporaries as an exemplary catalyst for eliciting faith in Israel’s Messiah”. In working out the details of how the Apostle Paul would have understood the details of the fulfillment of the Hope of Israel, Mr. Lewis makes the following insightful statements:
“Paul was well aware that all of Israel’s restoration promises encompassed the return of both houses of Israel”.
“Paul likely under that many of the northern tribes of Israel were not, in fact, completely destroyed by the Assyrians in the eight century BCE and lost to time, but instead had acculturated with heathen non-Israelites, thereby losing their identity and effectively becoming “not my people”, or Gentiles”.

“…Paul’s appropriation of Hosea 1:9-10 and 2:23 in Romans 9:24-26 is likely employed intentionally to evoke the promise of Israel’s restoration as a robust metanarrative in Paul’s efforts toward Jewish and Gentile reconciliation”.

“Paul did not view both Gentiles and northern tribes as two distinct unconnected ethnic groups, but instead, as uniformly homogeneous”.
“In other words, Paul’s mission to the Gentiles was the vehicle whereby the northern tribes would be gathered from exile, reconciled, and restored with the southern kingdom of Judah in the land. By extension, those who had always been outside the covenant would also be reconciled to the Lord. In this way, Israel, as God’s special heralds, was the nucleus of the Lord’s plan to save all humanity”.

GENTILE SALVATION
Mr. Lewis quotes, renowned British New Testament scholar, C.E.B. Cranfield, in that “Paul takes this (Hosea’s) promise as a proof of God’s purpose to include the Gentiles in His salvation”. Mr. Lewis couples this thought with a thought of his own, “…the gathering of the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah is coterminous with the Gentiles putting their hope in “the root of Jesse”. I hope you catch the significance of the point being made here. In God’s demonstration of His faithfulness to the promises He gave to Israel (all twelve tribes), we find the necessary extension of God’s promises to those outside those tribes. Mr. Lewis notes various passages such as Isaiah chapter 11 wherein after the restoration “the nations shall inquire” (v.10) or the “nations shall never again…” which we read of in Ezekiel 37:22, which speak to realities after the restoration. Not only does this highlight that, “…the Gentiles are converted as Israel is restored from exile (Ezekiel 39:21-29)”, but also that there would be a continuance after the restoration. Glory to God!
RESTORATION OF ALL
The conclusive thought I would like to end with is that the faithfulness, the love, and the sovereign wisdom of God are demonstrated by understanding the points Mr. Lewis brings out in his book. In noting the historical details of God’s judgement upon the northern tribes and their being swallowed up among the Gentiles, we come to know that “The Gentiles consisting of eclectic mix of people with no discrete national identity (i.e., the covenantally divorced northern tribes and those who were never a part of the commonwealth of Israel) – would be renewed to the worship of YHWH through Paul’s mission; and as a result, they would ALL flow unto Jerusalem (i.e., the land (cf. Isaiah 2:2)”. The term Gentile therefore “… is a term that both expresses and is inclusive of the ultimate restoration and ingathering of the northern tribes of Israel. Subsequently, it is inclusive of the restoration of all humanity”. Furthermore, noting the Apostle Paul’s nostalgia for Israel’s redemptive narrative as made known through the Law and the Prophets, his “…appropriation of Hosea 1:9-10 and 2:23 in Romans 9:25-26 was neither a radical misreading nor an attempt to change the meaning away from the original context – i.e., the northern tribes. Moreover, nor was it a methodical attempt to appropriate the verses toward a detached group called Gentiles – i.e., they were not detached in Paul’s mind. Instead, it was a deliberate hermeneutical scheme designed to show that the ingathering of the Gentile nations also meant the ingathering of the northern tribes, and thus the end of Israel’s exile. It was the time of universal restoration of all”.

A NECESSARY PARTICULARISM
I appreciated that Mr. Lewis asserted that “Paul continually advances a corporate-community election over an individual election”. I often get frustrated when I read Christian writers completely abusing the textual context of that which the Apostle Paul is speaking to. Corporate salvation not individual salvation. That is not to say that we cannot understand individual election by studying out the concept of corporate election, however that’s a study for another time. I did follow up in discussion with Mr. Lewis regarding the mention of “ultimate restoration of all humanity” and “universal restoration of all”. Too be quite honest, I had a preconceived idea that Mr. Lewis would repudiate any understanding of Universalism, and sure enough he did. He remarked, “It is common among Pauline scholars to understand that Paul was talking about particularism not universalism”. Simply put, “all” doesn’t necessarily mean all, and requires a contextually study of the text it is being used in.

Overall this was an excellent read. If you have questions about the “Jews and Gentiles”, or if you want to get a better grasp on how the Apostle Paul used Old Testament texts in explaining the Gospel, this book is necessary. Here is a link to get a copy for yourself, https://www.glossahouse.com/product-page/jew-and-gentile-reconciled
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Michael Miano

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