THINKING THROUGH A NARRATIVE SOTERIOLOGY (#2)

INTRO

Back in May 2018, I offered up a #1 in what I knew would become a series of articles on narrative soteriology (an understanding of salvation as understood through the Biblical story). In this article, I will continue, prayerfully with increased clarity, outlining a narrative perspective on how we should gain understandings of salvation.

You can read article #1 at the following link, https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/thinking-through-a-narrative-soteriology-1/

NARRATIVE THEOLOGY

In detailing Narrative Theology, I explained that, “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 or “Tradition”).”

TOTAL DEPRAVITY?

I had mentioned two particular areas of theology that I have recently come to understand, which stand in contrast to some popular teachings I may have previously agreed with. For example, I had previously held to a presupposed understanding of “Total Depravity” as 16th century reformer John Calvin would have outlined it. In article # 1, I stated “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 those to whom it shines 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 through the Gospel (Luke 8:15). 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).”

“IN ADAM”

Also, as I have studied and developed this narrative understanding, and furthermore have highlighted a metanarrative (story within the story), I noted in article #1 that, “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.” I am currently working on some teaching resources in regards to proper “In Adam” teachings.

What I would like to do in this #2 article is share two recent learning points I have been blessed with and offer an update on my understanding of some of the details that come from this conversation. To preface this detailed study, I’d like to share a point I made on my social media earlier today, “I promote what I would call an “effective Christian foundation”, which is not getting caught up in the minutia/ details of repentance, confession, baptism, and maturity – but rather putting together the Biblical narrative (in context) and applying the details that seem simple enough and convict us (granted this may change per Believer). That is not to say that I won’t entertain conversation and study about the details, nor seek further conviction regarding how they apply. However, my stake and claim is found in maturity, not the rudimentary principles of conversion.”

LEARNING POINTS

At The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch.org) we have been going through the details of the Exodus. This past Sunday I preached about the type and antitype of being “baptized into Moses”. The Apostle Paul emphasizes that this was an example upon them whom the end/goal of the ages had come (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11). In the sermon that I preached I detailed significant factors such as “audience relevance” putting the antitype of “baptism in Moses” to be the shift of the covenant (i.e., baptism in Moses represented the Old Covenant, and “baptism in Christ” represents the New Covenant) and the correlation of water and wind/spirit in Exodus chapter 14 and John 3:5. Interestingly enough, Pastor Steve, Pastor Emiritus at BPBC made a good point after the sermon, the baptism in Moses was “in the sea, and in the cloud” (cf. 1 Cor. 10), yet the Israelites did not get wet. The water was not the distinction, rather the work of God (God with them) was the distinction. As you outline and follow with understanding the type and antitype of this baptism, it would seem to highlight more of identification with the covenant rather than the mode of the baptism. You can listen to that sermon at the following link,  http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/785921-saturate-healing-the-historical-amnesia-in-the-church

Also, as we have been studying different aspects of God’s sovereignty and man’s ability in our Saturday Bible Study at BPBC, we came upon Ephesians  2:7, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He has loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved) and has raised us up together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus”.

This seems to highlight the points I have been making in regards to the need to not only pay attention to pronouns, but also in recognizing the time of the Elect to be the first century. From Ephesians 2:7 it would seem that God did something for the “us” He raised up in that time (“showing kindness toward” them) in an effort that in ages to come (NOW), through His Church (Ephesians 3:10), He would “show the exceeding riches of His grace”. Our understanding of God’s grace comes from looking back at the kindness He showed to His elect during that time of transition until the time of reformation (AD 70). I know Tony Denton’s resources have been encouraging and challenging in regards to the “transition time” and the details of salvation. Two verses Mr. Denton brings to mind are Luke 21:22 and Hebrews 9:15, and obviously there are a host more that really challenge us to contextually put together the narrative and then apply the details.

BAPTISM

Speaking of Tony Denton, he makes some interesting points that need to be considered when gaining an understanding of baptism as it relates to the time of transition. View his video at the following link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNt8-r14sOo

I have continued my studies and conversations with preacher Holger Neubauer in regards to baptism and have finally begun to offer up some conclusive remarks. In early August 2018, I shared with Holger that through my studies I have come to see the need to develop an “effective Christian foundation” in a Believer’s life rather than dwell upon the specifics. I am outlining this “foundation” as the need to hear the Gospel, repent, confess Jesus Christ, participate in water baptism as an emblem of faith, and mature in Christ. This is built upon the estimation that our goal is to create lives that love with a pure heart, maintain a good conscience toward God and others, and possess a sincere faith (cf. 1 Timothy 1:5).

This is not me developing some new understanding. Rather, this is based upon study of a few resources, some of which I am continuing, and therefore offering up an understanding in clarity of what I see to be a rather confused and lengthy study. For example, in his series, ‘Where’s The Water’, Dr. Kelly Nelson Birks explains and details the proper parsing of the verbs in regards to the Greek word used for baptism.  Dr. Birks charges that most interpretations of “water baptism” are based upon assumptions of water. Also, Garth Wierbe, an online Biblical commentator, in an article on baptism offered up the following insight, “If the Scriptures really wanted to emphasize or limit the meaning of baptism to what we do in “water baptism” they would have used “bapto” (in the Greek) not “baptizo”.” In reference to Acts chapter 2, Mr. Wierbe notes, “What are each of them to be baptized into? Into the pardoning of sin…And when will that happen? When they change their minds based on what was just preached to them about Jesus Christ”.

This seems to be more in line with what “one baptism” we mark out as important. Baptism in Christ is not and “in and out situation”, like water baptism, but rather an immersion into something that absorbs and transforms. Matter of fact, it is because I believe baptism into Christ to be so much more than “water baptism”, I was able to agree with Church of Christ preacher Steve Baisden, in his article ‘Baptism For What?’, when he stated, “If baptism for the remission of sin is all that is involved for a baptism to be valid, why then did Paul demand the disciples to be rebaptized (cf. Acts chapter 19)? After all, they were baptized for the remission of their sins (Mark 1:4)”.

Baptism into Christ is far more than a remission of sins, far more than an obsession with water, rather baptism in Christ is belief in and immersion/identification with Christ (cf. Mark 16:15-16), or a repentance from a false belief and identification with the name of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 2:38). In Romans chapter 10, the Apostle Paul says if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus (this is an act of repentance and confession/ belief) and shall believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (this is baptism/ immersion into/ identification with Christ, more than mere belief), you shall be saved”. Consider this, “For with the heart a man he believes in righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (cf. Romans 10:10) sounds a lot like the point Jesus Christ made in Matthew 15:18 (if what comes out of a man’s mouth defiles him; therefore, they must also be able to make him clean). Consider the following texts that seem to make the case for this understanding – 1 John 1:9; Matthew 10:32-33; 1 Timothy 6:12.  Furthermore, Hebrews chapter 6 seems to urge us to a maturity that is beyond foundational things (which includes but is not limited to details of baptism and the resurrection of the dead). A maturity which I believe is expounded upon by the things listed in  2 Peter chapter 1.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

A charge of “let us move on to maturity” does not necessarily limit the importance of these details nor disregard them, but rather places emphasis on the fact that these need not be the things that constantly set us in opposition. I know I will surely continue my studies in this area, and prayerfully continue to be blessed and challenged by conversations with brother Holger Neubauer.

Holger has charged that I am guilty of a “tautology”, which is an unnecessary repetition, is regards to my understanding of baptism. Sure enough this is an argument used by a Baptist to charge the need of Christian Baptism during the 1800’s. Richard Ingham, in his ‘Appeal To Friends on Christian Baptism’ remarked, “The supposition that Christ meant the baptism of the Spirit, …involves the most unnatural and improbable tautology”. You can read his statement and points at the following link, https://books.google.com/books?id=1FEqjQULJZYC&pg=PA40&lpg=PA40&dq=tautology+baptism&source=bl&ots=rUvJKZpIAu&sig=gdl7lGKljp577iPvFrTNDkS1llg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjj78iesZDdAhUynOAKHWCRAUkQ6AEwBHoECAYQAQ#v=onepage&q=tautology%20baptism&f=false

Mr. Ingham and Holger have charged that this understanding of baptism (to be immersed into the teachings of Christ) that it would therefore create the unnecessary statement of “make disciples and make disciples” in Matthew 28:19-20 or “believe and believe” in Mark 16:15-16. This is not so. The Greek words used in both passages, matheteo – teach, and pisteuo – believe –  mark out mental assent, whereas the word baptize means to be fully immersed. Therefore, what Christ is ultimately saying is, Go and tell the nations the Gospel, teaching them and lead them to confess and repent, and thereby make disciples by immersing them into the faith and the works of following after Jesus Christ. No tautology.

In reference to why I place “water baptism” into my understanding of an “effective Christian foundation”, is that there are passages where simply put, water does show up. I am still looking for solid answers in those regards. In my going through various studies on baptism, noting that different “camps” have different versions of what they mark out as baptism in the Bible, it becomes a convoluted argument and many times hard to assess how important water baptism is. For example, Holger Neubauer shared a great Facebook post regarding the 7 Baptisms in the Bible, I had mentioned to him finding a previous article that listed 7 other versions of baptism, and sure enough I just finished reading through Dr. Peter S. Ruckman’s version of the 7 Baptisms in the Bible. Yikes!

I believe as I mentioned above, that our role as Christians “making known the manifold wisdom of God” and bringing “healing to the nations” through the Water of Life, is to help create and foster lives that love with a pure heart, maintain a good conscience toward God and others, and possess a sincere faith (cf. 1 Timothy 1:5). Moving forward I will continue to assert and maintain my convictions of a an effective Christian foundation – Gospel proclamation, repentance, confess, water baptism, and maturity – and not get bogged down by details, but rather teaching these things aiming for clarity and conviction, neither allowing hypotheticals to become to norm (a great insight from Holger Neubauer).
Blessings in Christ,
Michael Miano, pastor
The Blue Point Bible Church

 

“Salvation is more than a profession of faith, or a dip in a baptisty, or a moral life, or conformity to external rules of religion. It’s more than _______________________ (fill in the blank). Salvation is the supernatural transformation whereby one is renewed inwardly and thereby transformed outwardly”. – Richard Belcher, Journey in Grace

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DISTURBING THE PEACE

An Overview Study on the Message of the Biblical Prophets

The Word of God is prophetic. In Genesis we find God declaring His first covenant with man and His declaration of sovereignty and ownership over everything He has created. In the Psalms we read of various cries to the Lord, each of which can resonate with us. In Revelation, we read of a vision given to John to warn the terminal first century generation of their end. Scripture is replete with prophets and prophetic words that demand examination to the edification of the Believer.

May the words of the prophets invigorate you and give you clarity regarding the Word of God.

(* Not intended to be exhaustive of every person that is or could be a Biblical prophet nor all the prophesies)

 

ADAM
“And the Lord God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man saying, ‘of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, do not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die’ (Genesis 2:15-17).

“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a help meet for him’ (Genesis 2:18).

“And Adam said, ‘This is now flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone, she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of man’. Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:23-25)

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took the fruit, ate, and also gave to her husband, and he did eat. And both of their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves  from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden (Genesis 3:6-8)

Curse Declarations:
“To the serpent…(Genesis 3:14-15)”
“To the woman…(Genesis 3:16)”
“To Adam…(Genesis 3:17-19)”

“For Adam and his wife, the Lord God made coats of skin, and clothed them…unless He eat of the Tree of Life and live forever, He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubims, and a flaming sword, to guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:21-24)

 

ABEL
“And the Lord said to Cain,….”The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground (Genesis 4:9-10)”.

“The blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, will be required of this generation. From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah…(Luke 11:50-51)”.

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaks (Hebrews 11:4)”.

“Ye have come unto Mount Zion…and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel (Hebrews 12:22,24)”.

 

ENOCH – means “dedicated”
“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him (Genesis 5:24)”.

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God has translated him: for before his translation he had testimony that he pleased God (Hebrews 11:5)”.

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these saying, “Behold the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him (Jude 14-15)”.

 

METHUSALEH – makes “death shall be sent”; lived the longest in OT
And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died (Genesis 5:27)”.

 

NOAH
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 6:8-10)”

“And , behold, I, and even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein there is breath of life, from under heaven, and everything that is in the earth shall die. But with you (Noah) I will establish my covenant, and you shall go into an ark, you and yours sons, your wife and their wives. And every living thing, two of every sort, you shall bring into the ark, to keep alive, they shall be male and female….And so Noah did everything the Lord had commanded him (Genesis 6:17-22; 7:1-9)”.

“And the Lord spoke to Noah, saying, ‘Go from the ark, you, your wife, and your sons wives, bring with thee every living thing that is with thee…that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth (Genesis 8:15-17)”.

“And Noah built an altar to the Lord: and took of every clean beast and every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet aroma, and the Lord said in His heart, ‘I will not again curse the ground for man’s sake, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, neither again will I kill every living thing, as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease’ (Genesis 8:20-22)”.

“And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth (Genesis 9:1)”.

“And God said, ‘This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a token between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: and I will remember my covenant which is between me, you, and every living creature, and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth (Genesis 9:12-16)”.

“By faith Noah, being warned by God of things not yet seen, moved with fear, prepared an ark  to the saving of his house ; by which he condemned the world, and became the heir of righteousness which is by faith (Hebrews 11:7)”.

 

ABRAM/ ABRAHAM  
“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Get out of this land, and from your family, and your father’s house, and go to a land I will show you: and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you, and in you shall all families of the earth shall be blessed. So Abram went, as the Lord has said to him…(Genesis 12:1-4)”.

“And the Lord said to Abram…’Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are to the north, the south, and east, and west: for all the land that you see, I will give to you and your seed forever. And I will make your seed as the dust of the earth: so that if any man can number the dust of the earth, then shall your seed be numbered (Genesis 13:14-16)”.

“And My covenant shall be with you, and you shall be the father of many nations. Neither shall your name be called Abram, but Abraham, for I have made you the father of many nations. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, kings shall come out of you. And I will establish my covenant between me, you, and your seed after you, in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you and your seed after you. And I will give you, and your seed after you, the land which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God (Genesis 17:4-8)”.

“Are you not our God, who did drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and gave it to the seed of Abraham, your friend, forever (2 Chronicles 20:7)”.

“And do not say within yourselves, ‘We have Abraham to our father: I say to you, that God is able to raise up children of Abraham out of these stones (Matthew 3:9)”.

“They answered and to said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father’. Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham (John 8:39)”.

“Know that those who are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached the Gospel to Abraham, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed. So then they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham (Galatians 3:7-9)”.

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29)”.

“By faith Abraham when he was called to go out of a place to a place that he shall receive as an inheritance, obeyed: and he went out not knowing where he was going. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as a stranger….he looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:8-10)”.

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac, and he that had received the promise offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac shall your seed be called’: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead: and he was received as a type (Hebrews 11:17-19)”.

“O will you know, oh vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered up Isaac upon the alter? See how his faith was with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which said, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God. You see then that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only (James 2:20-24)”.

 

MELCHIZEDEK – means “king of righteousness”
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth. And blessed be the most high God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave with tithes of all (Genesis 14:18-20)”.

“The order of Melchizedek” – Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:1-6; 7:1-28)

 

ISAAC
“And God said to Abraham, “Let it not be grievous in your sight because of the child, and because of your bondwoman, in all that Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice, for in Isaac your seed shall be called (Genesis 21:12)”.

 

JACOB – carried blessing of Abraham (cf. Genesis 28:3-4)
“And Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came upon a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun was set; and he took one of the stones  of that place and used it for a pillow, and laid down to sleep. And he had a dream, where he saw a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, ‘I am the Lord God of Abraham, your father, and the God of Isaac, and the land where you are laying, to you I will give it, and to your seed; and your seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west, the east, the north, and the south: and in you and your seed shall all families of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with you, and will keep you in the place where you go, and I will bring you back into this land, I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken to you’. And then Jacob woke up, and he said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place; and I didn’t know it’. And he was afraid and said, ‘How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the same stone he had for his pillow, and set it as pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of that city was called Luz at first (Genesis 28:10-10)”.

“And Jacob was left alone: and there he wrestled with a man until the breaking of day. And when he saw that he did not prevail against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, ‘Let me go for the day has broken’. And he said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me’. And he said to him, What is your name? and he said, Jacob. And he said, ‘Your name shall no more be Jacob, but Israel, for as a prince you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed’…And Jacob named the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved (Genesis 32:24- 30)”.

Jacob blesses his sons and prophesies of the last days – “Gather yourselves together so that I may tell you what will befall you in the last days (Genesis chapter 49)”.

 

MOSES – “Song of Moses” (cf. Exodus chapter 15) the entirety of the law and the Old Covenant are understood to be the prophetic words of Moses

SAMUEL
He tried to persuade Israel that they did not want a king and kingdom like the nations around them (1 Samuel chapter 8)

 

ELIJAH
Elijah was known as the “troubler of Israel” (cf. 1 Kings 18:17) and challenged Ahab and the false prophets of Baal to what seemed like a duel. Of course the One True God showed His power and demonstrated the falsehood of Baal worship (1 Kings chapter 18).

 

JOEL
Spoke about the “Day of the Lord”  – a day of visions, judgement, and the Spirit of God being poured out (cf. Acts chapter 2).

 

HOSEA
Spoke of judgement and resurrection; married adulterous wife to exhibit sins of people, Israel.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. ‘Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your children (Hosea 4:6)”.

 

ISAIAH
Spoke of the “Day of the Lord” and the  “New heaven and new earth”

Isaiah 49:6

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind (Isaiah 65:17)”.

 

MICAH
“For the transgression of Jacob is all of this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? It is not Samaria? And what are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem? Therefore I will make Samaria as a heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundation thereof. And all the graven images shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with fire, and all the idols I will lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of a harlot, and they shall return to the hire of a harlot. Therefore I will wail and howl, and will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning like the owls (Micah 1:5-8)”.

“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, ‘Come, and let us go up the to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore (Micah 4:1-3)”.

“And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as dew from the Lord, as showers upon the grass, that works not for man, not waits for the son of men (Micah 5:7)”.

“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves that are a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or of ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, oh man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love mercy, and the walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8)”.

 

JEREMIAH
“Behold the days are coming says the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; the covenant which they broke, although I have been a husband to them, says the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, says the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach not more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’: for they all shall know me, from the least unto the greatest, says the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34)”.

Jeremiah also wrote the Book of Lamentations, which contains his prophesies and cries on behalf of the city of Jerusalem during the time of its impending judgement in 586 BC.

 

EZEKIEL
Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord. This led to him seeing a glimpse of the people being resurrected (cf. Ezekiel chapter 37) and the River of Life flowing from the restored Temple of God (cf. Ezekiel 47:1-12).

 

MALACHI
“For behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yes, and all them that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But to you that fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings: and you shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they shall be as ashes under the soles of you feet in the day that I do this, says the Lord of hosts (Malachi 4: 1-2)”.

“Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, unless I come and smite the earth with a curse (Malachi 4:5-6)”.

 

JOHN THE BAPTIST
“In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’. For this was he that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight…Then went out to him, Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized by him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said to them, ‘O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth fruit meet with repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham as our father: for I say to you, that God is able to make children of Abraham out of these stones. And now also, the ax is at the root of the trees; therefore every tree which does not bring forth fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water for repentance, but He that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the barn, and He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:1-12)”.

 

SIMEON
“And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon: and he was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the Temple, and when the parents had brought in Jesus, to do for him the custom of the Law, then Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed him, and said, ‘Lord, let your servant now depart in peace, according to Your word. I have seen Your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all people: a light to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel…Behold, this child will cause the rising and falling of many in Israel; and a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yeah, a sword shall pierce through my own soul too), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (Luke 2:25-35)”.

 

ANNA  
“And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity: and she was a wisdom for forty forty four years, and did not leave the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers, day and night. And she came in that instant and gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all of them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-28)”.

 

 

CONCLUSION

This study had begun as an idea to do a skit regarding the prophets. The point of the title, Disturbing The Peace, was to highlight the point that the prophets disturbed the status quo, especially in times when false prophets tried to keep the people content with a false peace. The prophets highlighted the true peace and hope that came from God, and continually called the people to live in line with that.

As I have grown in my understanding of Theology, the shape and purpose of the prophetic literature in the Bible has taken on much more meaning. Namely that the prophetic all mysteriously pointed to the New Covenant that would be made known through Jesus Christ, and the “hope of Israel”, as well as the “living hope”. As accounted by the Apostle Paul, the Gospel is the manifestation of the hope made known through the prophets (cf. Acts 24:14; 26:22) – nothing other than that will fit the “one hope” of Ephesians 4:4. Therefore, I have found it to be important in our continual growth into the Gospel to diligently study through the Prophets.

Prayerfully this study edified your own.

 

For His Glory,

Michael Miano
Pastor, Apologist, Author, & Director

 

 

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Conference Sale – Clarity In Revelation PDF

For this weekend, August 3rd-5th, while the Spirit & Life Lectures 2018 is taking place, you can order a $3 PDF file of Clarity in Revelation (more about book & link below).

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Clarity in Revelation is a study guide to accompany one’s study of the Book of Revelation in the Bible. Michael Miano has preached sermons through the Book of Revelation at The Blue Point Bible Church and continues to teach about Revelation through a video series on Facebook LIVE and The Power of Preterism Network’s YouTube page.

Here is the link to make your purchase, https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=D8RR45874CN9Y

 

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God’s PAST Judgement: Affirming Preterism

On Friday, July 20th, 2018 – Pastor Michael Miano offered a lecture and affirmation of the Preterist view of God’s judgement.  You can listen to that lecture at the following link, https://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/757151-god-s-past-judgement

  • Also below you will find the handout to accompany that lecture, as well as excepts and notes.

“When did those under God’s wrath experience God’s wrath on the day of wrath (Rom. 2:5)? When did all unbelievers (not just in Judea) but all over the empire, experience the wrath to come upon all ungodly men and unbelievers (Rom. 1:18)”. – Joel Sexton

GAINING AN UNDERSTANDING OF JUDGEMENT
Prayerfully we can agree that we are not at liberty to develop mental images and concepts of our own that are foreign to the text of Scripture and how the original audience would have understood the details. Surely, we understand that 2000 years has a way of entirely changing and reshaping a perspective and or a culture. Placing emphasis on understanding the details from the original audiences perspective is called “audience relevance”.

If and when we are honest with ourselves, we can plainly admit that much of perspectives on spirituality and theology have been influenced by, fantasized by, and given over to Hollywood. I would assert that rather than having a healthy conceptual spirituality shaped by God’s truth, we have welcomed and accepted a perspective of Judgement Day that would make a great movie and/or book. Peter at the golden gates, everyone standing before a rathe larger throne, everyone being forced to bow to King Jesus…. All of that makes things exciting but are not necessarily true.

Understanding Context; thematic patterns; time texts = healthy understanding of God’s PAST Judgement

When we come to identify the 1st century generation as the “terminal generation”, the generation in which all things that were written found their fulfillment (cf. Luke 21:22 ), we realize that there is so much to study about and to say about the destruction of Jerusalem and how it applies to our lives in Christ. The “Gospel of the Kingdom” that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:14 was the destruction of Jerusalam – the natural judgement as would be revealed on earth and the spiritual judgement of vengeance and rewards.

Spending some time understanding HOW God has made His judgements known throughout the Scriptures is advantageous to this study. I would assert that God made His judgments known from heaven, usually through earthly happenings (be they plagues or invading armies). Let’s take a look at what Jesus said in Luke 21:20-24:

“20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

When it comes to the judgement, that’s the image we must have in our head, not what we have conjured up, or what Hollywood has produced. Matter a fact, please allow me to share some other Biblical insights and some historical remarks regarding God’s PAST Judgement, that I am studying through regarding the details of the Final Judgement as made clear in Revelation chapter 14:14-20:

“In our reading of Revelation chapter 14:14-20 this “coming” speaks to God’s judgement and wrath as noted in v. 10 of the same chapter and alluding to judgement prophesied by Ezekiel (chapter 38) and spoke by Jesus and recorded in Matthew chapter 23. Sure enough, following Pentecost of AD 66, it is recorded by first century Jewish historian, Josephus, in his writing, Wars of the Jews “At that feast which we call Pentecost [of A.D. 66], as the priests were going by night into the inner temple…they felt a quaking and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us remove hence’”. This correlates to Ezekiel 1:24, “And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host”. This was also recorded by Roman historian Tacitus who speaking about this historical event wrote, “A sudden lightening flash from the clouds lit up the Temple.  The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure.”  This would seem to be a declaration that God’s presence was leaving the Temple before its destruction. “

 

John 3:18- 21:

“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

However, Christ came to fulfill the prophecies, not defer or put them off. Judgement, “at that Day” was required to bring vengeance upon those who persecuted God’s people, especially those who killed His Son. Not only is this spoken about in the “according to their works” language, also “every knee shall bow” language – Romans 14:11 and Phippians 2:10. This is a citation of Isaiah 42:23. It’s important that we read, starting a verse 17 and ending at verse 25 to gain context).

Read Isaiah 42:17-25. Those who bow are the people of God, Israel.

The destruction of Jerusalem fulfilled and revealed the judgement of God!
“I would argue: first, the covenantal significance of the loss of the temple stands as the most dramatic redemptive-historical outcome of the Jewish War.” (Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, (Draper, VA; Apologetics Group, 2009), 347).

“The whole of the story, of judgement for those who had not followed Jesus and the vindication for those who had, is summed up in the cryptic but frequently repeated saying “the first shall be last, the last fist. In other words, when the great tribulation came on Israel, those who had followed Jesus would be delivered; and that would be the sign that Jesus had been in the right, and that in consequence they had been in the right in following him. The destruction of Jerusalem on the one hand, and the rescue of the disciples on the other, would be the vindication of what Jesus had been saying throughout his ministry.” (N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, Minneapolis, Fortress, 1996), 338).

This has brought about what the late Dr. Kelly Nelson Birks called “The Eternal Now of God”. In some of his teachings on this topic, Dr. Don K. Preston has referred to this as “Representative judgement”, which he said “…is a common concept because it is related to the Hebraic concept of corporate identity. It’s an exegetically confirmed concept”. Ultimately, as Dr. Preston noted, it is in failing “to grasp these fundamental Hebraic ideas that leads to an over-emphasis on saying things like “I did not see Rome, or Armenia, or Syria, or whatever judged. This is misguided”.

Unfortunately many have allowed a “misplaced hope” to lead them forward on the topic of judgement. Not only a Hollywood style, leaning upon thy own misunderstanding approaching, but a desire to put trust in the historic creeds of the church. “Misplaced hope” should remind many of the book Sam Frost had written a few years back about exactly that – a misplaced trust in creeds and councils. Yes, the Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, Augsburg Confession (article 17), and the Westminster Confession (33:1-3) – and a host of others – assert a yet future judgement and resurrection. However, how all the details are put together by so many different camps in such different ways is not only depressing, but should redirect any honest Bible student back to Scriptures and the concept of “audience relevance”. I do however, look to publish a resource to accompany some of the others that are out there which speak to historic church error on the last things (including but not limited to judgement of the living and the dead).

So…in response to Joel Sexton on judgement, I would assert, as I have said before “…it seems he completely misses thematic expressions of judgement as revealed in the Old and New Testaments. The Exodus typology found all throughout the New Testament and the teachings of Christ, regarding what He was  doing in and through His “called out ones” gives us the beautiful pattern of the manifested judgement of God. Full Preterism, even more specifically the Corporate Body View, not only seems to give us the most contextually and Scripturally supported view of God’s judgement, it also lends to establishing and understanding the Gospel of Jesus Christ”.

 

CONCLUSION: REVELATION & APPLICATION
What I have offered up tonight – contextual view of God’s judgement, Preterist understanding of the past final judgement (bolstered by the Hebraic understanding as offered up through the Law and the Prophets), the problems with a future deferred hope, and now we will end with some points regarding how we internalize and apply God’s PAST Judgement.

I rather appreciate Dr. Don K. Preston’s article series regarding the Gospel and the destruction of Jerusalalem. In one of the articles he notes;

What was Peter doing in Acts 3:22-23?  He was identifying the True Israel – the true “the people” as those who accepted Jesus! But notice that he warned his audience that those who refused to accept Jesus: “And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.” The language here is graphic– “utter destruction” awaited those who rejected Jesus as Messiah!

Those rejecting Jesus would be “utterly destroyed” – which of course happened in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 – but, on the other side of the coin, it meant that with the destruction of the Old People, the True People of God were revealed. The ‘sons of God were manifested” just as Paul predicted in Romans 8:19: “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”

What was “creation” longing for? It was waiting for “the manifestation (apocalypsis- the revealing) of the sons of God.” In the mind-set of the ancient world, nothing could have more clearly manifested the identity of the True Israel than the destruction of the very symbol of the Old World, the City and the Temple.

Here is the manifestation of the sons of God! Here is the vindication of the saints!

A future judgement is not needed in the life of a Christian. We, as Israel was supposed, through the righteousness of Jesus Christ carry God’s judgments with us. As the Apostle remarked, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (cf. Romans 8:1). Those who believe an accomplished judgement leads to deism, universalism, and/or antinomianism need to go back and understand what it means to be “in Christ”, not to mention how all throughout Scripture the judgements of God were historically known and contemporarily applied. As for those who are outside Christ – they are condemned, they don’t have the victory, don’t walk in life and Godliness that has been marked out, and suffer loss. As 1 Corinthians 5:13 cites, “as to those outside, God judges”.

As Dr. Preston said very well, “I suggest that is high time- and past- to recover the power of the gospel of the kingdom of the end of the Old Covenant world. That event was the manifestation of the sons of God, and irrefutable, undeniable vindication of Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus himself pointed to that event as the sign of his presence– the sign that he is King of kings and Lord of lords (Matthew 24:30). It is time that the modern church begins once again to proclaim that message of victory, of vindication, of identification, of glorification.”

Amen and Amen.

cf. ‘Remember Pella’ by Nathan DuBois. Read the article at the following link, https://www.preteristarchive.com/Idealism/2005_dubois_pella.html

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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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