Monthly Archives: September 2012

GOD SPOKE TO ME : He Rejects the “Church”

 

 Reject: to refuse to have, take, recognize, etc.

               Today, as I sat in prayer consulting the Lord about The Freaked Out Movement and The Fellowship C.H.U.R.C.H., seeking His guidance and instruction through a sense of peace. I got an answer! Now before you go and think I’m like that “charismatic folk” down the road who thinks God speaks to him, hear me out. I believe Gods’ Word is preserved in the eternal words of Jesus Christ and the writings of the Apostles. I believe through those writings and critical thinking in line with those teachings- we can “hear God”. Amen?

So…as I sat there thinking about Christ’s body, the Church, and what we (as the body of Christ) have been, are, and will be throughout the ages-  tears came to my eyes. (Get to know me and you will know this isn’t my norm).

What do you and your congregation call the church? What holds you all together?

               Last week, I was in a conversation with a man at a local coffee shop and he asked me “what church do you go to”. I began to explain to him that I am the pastor of a local missional church called The Fellowship C.H.U.R.C.H.. As I explained more he replied “oh so you’re a Bible study, just call yourself that”. I left this conversation a bit disheartened and did not agree. Our small group is not a Bible study, we do far more than exegete the Bible, we discuss life based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and we seek ways to apply that in the world.

What is a “church”? Biblically defined the term “church” comes from the Greek term ekklesia which means “called out ones” and is represented by the assembly of believers. Jesus Christ said His kingdom is “not of this world (John 18:36)”, which meant those in darkness (under the Law of sin and death) were being called into the Light (freedom by His grace) (John 1:5). It was these “called out ones” who were later sent into the world (John 17). If you take the time to read through the book of Acts you can learn how this assembly of called out ones operated.

So what is the situation with the social club, “dog and pony show” that many erroneously refer to as the “church” today? Where did this come from? If you sit down and do a historical study of Christianity all the way back to the first century – (a great writing about the first century church is – The Early Christians in Their Own Words by Eberhardt Arnold) – you will arrive at a time of change that occurred during the reign of Constantine. The Edict of Milan (AD 313) took an underground persecuted movement that was “not of this world” and created an empire out of it. It was all of a sudden “acceptable”, “cool”, and so forth to be a Christian, ironically a lot of the dedicated and devoted Christ-followers most likely were martyred under the Diocletian persecution of AD 303 which left plenty of room for half-hearted converts.

So…does your “church” have more in common with the persecuted, underground, Christ-followers who “devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 3:42)” or the “coo”, “accepted”, “popular” crown mentality of the empire? Come on, you know- a big building, a lot of ‘fake smiles and hugs’, dare I mention “peace be unto you” handshakes!

Most people know this, that is why every so often a “church” will pop up with a new slogan like “the church has left the building”, or a popular fad of saying “we don’t go to church, we are the church”, but sure enough the institution is very good as making the people complacent again. Get back in line!

Sunday after Sunday, a new host of people show up to hear about how they must live more like Jesus, they must repent and confess, and that “Jesus died for your sins”- an individual obsession with salvation that has nothing to do with the Biblical gospel.  As Eberhardt Arnold once noted, “…the very thought of encouraging the sort of selfish solitude whereby people seek their own private peace by shutting out the noise and rush of public life around them is anathema”.

Brotherhoods like the Bruderhof and underground seminaries of the like formed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Finkenwalde Seminary, rise up amidst the nonsense to foster true images of what the ‘kingdom of God’ looks like lived out. I can speak personally, and I believe corporately, when I say that we being ‘carnal-minded’ forget often that the healthiest “church” exists on the margins. It was the Monks around AD 320 who saw the issue with ‘Imperial Christianity’ and decided the true Christian ideals were better lived ‘in exile’. More recently the rise of ‘New Monasticism’ help foster the view that Christianity exists on the margins of the empire.

Many within the institution will label this “emergent” or seek to keep their members busy with new books clubs and popular “Christian” fads. I personally have witnessed this first hand- the dismissal of critical thinking to continue the survival of the institution. It is sad that as a “student” of the institution but never willing to let go of critical thinking and encouraged by the Scriptures, the hypocrisy is evident from many within the institution that they would probably much rather me “not be a Christian” today. As we seek to expose, engage, and reform the body of Christ to what it is called to be.

So…as I sat today and felt “rebuked” by the Lord, for yet again falling victim to my ‘carnal mind’ and the ‘ways of the empire’ in regards to “the Church”- I “heard the Spirit” or rather “see through Scripture” that God rejects the “church” that is not moving in His name, in His power, in His Truth, and most importantly- His Spirit!

               MIKE…as Christians, little- Christ’s you are to go out into the world. Stop trying to have your own buildings and shows (aka Sunday services), go into the world. Go into their “services”, “buildings”, etc…and seek out all those in darkness (blind to the Truth and knowledge of God). Bring them into the LIGHT!

               Wow!  I guess we can’t say God doesn’t speak today, huh?

               My brethren..those that are of the ‘body of Christ’ aka the Church…we are “called out” to be a kingdom people- we represent a kingdom that is of the Spirit- not of this world. It’s not a far away land, an after-life, but a Spiritual reality. In Revelation chapters 21-22, we read about those in the gates who have “washed their robes” (His righteousness) and have access to the “water of life” (Revelation 22:1, 17) and the “tree of life which gives leaves that are the healing of the nations”. I firmly believe the gospel of covenant relationship with God to be the tree of life, therefore we have those leaves (the knowledge of God) which is the healing of the nations. I pray this reality will continue to be manifested in each of us, that we become a community of Berean-minded people (critical thinkers who search and study the Scriptures & seek to prove all things) being led by the Spirit of God to help others grow in the grace and knowledge of God (become disciples of Jesus’ teachings).

Blessings in Christ,

Michael Miano

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Salvation Matters

               I have blogged before about salvation and I firmly believe this to be an important concept to understand. Have you ever heard the phrase, “it’s not a salvation issue”? This has always concerned me because I try to define what exactly is a salvation issue. This is pretty serious right? We have this prevailing understanding that you are either saved or not. The next question we must ask is, “what are we saved from?”. I have heard many answers. I was led to Christ understanding I was saved from living an unfulfilled life (John 10:10), whereas I have heard many others refer to being saved from “eternal damnation (Matthew 25:46)”, or even from the “futility of our minds (Ephesians 4:16-19)” or more recently, “the old mode of existence (the body of Adam). So…which is that and how does that apply to us in the 21st century?

               First and foremost, Scripturally I see a major issue of salvation being the preaching and understanding of the gospel, the true gospel. In Galatians chapter 1 we read, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be ETERNALLY CONDEMNED. As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be ETERNALLY CONDEMNED (Galatians 1:8-9)”. We also read similar thoughts in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 verses 1-11 and 2 Corinthians chapter 11 verses 1-4. I recently made a video explaining that the jesus many so-called “christians” profess, believe in, and claim to follow is not the same Jesus Christ I profess, believe in, and follow His teachings. You can watch that video here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5CjuIOHqrk

               The most apparent issue that is seen is the lack of context given with the popular message. Who was waiting and to whom was salvation and Jesus Christ the Messiah coming to? In reading the Old Testament and let’s say Luke chapter 2, you can learn more about the context and purpose of the Messiah- remember He came to fulfill prophecy and the Scriptures (Old Testament) prophesied about Him. As Andrew Perriman stated in one of his blogs:

“One basic consequence of the narrative-historical approach is that what we find in the New Testament is not primarily a gospel of personal salvation or teaching about how to live a good Christian life. What we find is the story of a people going through a protracted and traumatic historical crisis, a crisis which is radically reinterpreted in the light of the death and resurrection of Jesus.”

“We live with the consequences of the transformation that was brought about through the death and resurrection of Jesus, just as Old Testament Israel lived with the consequences of the exodus as a defining redemptive event”.

This seemingly confuses many who have been led to the “Romans Road” view of salvation. It seems many have taken the historical message of salvation to Israel and therefore a light to the Gentiles (Luke 2:32) and have made it a personal, relavistic, subjective “feeling” they have when they “accept Jesus into their heart”. FRIGHTENING NEWS: THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL PREACHED BY THE APOSTLES!

                                             “let them be ETERNALLY CONDEMNED”

               Let me get a bit personal here. I am known for my critical attitude, which I and some others would label “reforming”. I read about, listen to, and engage the “gospel” that is being taught to many people and it is a play on their ignorance of Scripture, and therefore rebuke it with the intent to lead people closer to a TRUE, REASONABLE, AND CONTEXTUAL UNDERSTANDING of the gospel delivered and fulfilled by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. Otherwise, I am making concessions for eternal condemnation.

  Read Romans 1:16. It is therefore vital to understand what salvation was to the Jews, after all Jesus came only to the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24) as the “consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25).

“Judaism of the second Temple period (and prior) considered the concept of salvation more national (corporate) than exclusively personal, as modern Christianity views it. The salvation of the individual Jew was connected to the salvation of the entire people. This belief stemmed directly from the teachings of the Torah. The idea of corporate salvation of Israel is reflected in Paul’s letter to the Romans, particularly in chapters 9-11. The concept of salvation was tied to that of restoration for Israel. It included such ideas as: Rescue from national enemies, Restoration of national symbols, State of shalom among peoples, Inauguration of the age to come, Liberation from Rome, Restoration of the Temple, Free enjoyment of their own land and Inauguration of a new covenant between Israel and her God”.

Some of the Scriptures that testify to these things are: Isaiah 2:1-4; 11:9-10; 27:12; 33:22; 42:1-6; 45:14,23; 49:5-6; 23; 51:4-5; 52:7-10; 54:3; 56:1-8; 60-66; Ezekiel 17; 20:42; 34; 36:9-12; 39:26; 47:13-48; 48:35; Daniel 7; Micah 2:12; 4; 5:10-15; 7:17; Amos 9:11-13; Zechariah 2:11; 8:20-23; 14:1-11; Zephaniah 2:9;10; Joel 3:17.

The Jews of the first century expected to be rescued from foreign dominion. This would occur after they suffered (a purification process) for past breaches of their covenant with God. (See: Deuteronomy 4:32, Isaiah 40:1-2, Jeremiah 31:27-40, Ezekiel 18; 36:24-28, and Hosea 14:2.)”.

               It is clear that the Jewish understanding of “salvation” was a corporate thing that would occur after a big judgment-style event, can someone say “resurrection”? The theological terms within the New Testament need to be interpreted by way of an Old Testament Hebraic method; otherwise we end up adding a different meaning to words which they were never meant to convey. For example, ““wrath” has reference to the destruction of Jerusalem and the overthrow of pagan imperialism; “gospel” is the announcement that God is about to transform the status of his people in relation to “the nations”; Jesus’ death is an atonement for the sins of Israel, the means by which the people of God would escape complete destruction; “justification by faith” has reference to the historical vindication of those who believed that Israel’s God would make his Son, Israel’s king, Lord of the nations; and so on”.

You can do more studying pertaining to understanding Jewish “salvation” by visiting sites such as:

http://boldlyproclaimingchrist.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/the-abstract-enemy/

http://www.abideinchrist.com/messages/amos9v11.html

http://www.yashanet.com/studies/romstudy/rom2.htm

 Many times I get into discussions and seek to explain this corporate understanding of salvation but so many people are concerned about their individual salvation. I can’t begin to account how many times I hear, “are you saying I am not saved?”. Andrew Perriman explains this dilemma:

“For evangelicals today, however, conditioned by their history, theology and culture to prioritize the interests of the individual, this way of relating to the New Testament sounds much too detached and depersonalized. We have become theologically reliant on a paradigm that makes personal salvation the unmovable centre of Christian thought. It requires a considerable leap of the imagination to shift from a universalizing, concentric, synchronic theological model to a particularizing, linear, diachronic historical model, but it has to be done. Certainly it has to be done for the sake of an intelligent and consistent understanding of the New Testament, but I would also argue that in the long run the personal dimensions to our theology—pastoral and evangelistic—should also be reconstructed in keeping with the narrative-historical reading”.

               In the same light, properly understood “salvation” exposes the issues we have with the popular “gospel”.  If you take away personal salvation and replace it with corporate salvation that is individually realized, then surely the gospel isn’t personal either.

“The good news, then, is that Jesus died for the sins of Israel in order that a remnant might escape the coming destruction and experience new life, in the Spirit, in the age to come”- Andrew Perriman

 Again to quote, Andrew Perriman, “Redemption, therefore, is not a personal event but a corporate and historical event: redemption is when God’s people get through the coming crisis of God’s judgment of the ancient world: they have been sealed by the Holy Spirit for an impending “day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). Because this future redemption was secured outside the Law, through the faithfulness of Jesus, membership of redeemed Israel was thrown open to Gentiles, which is a crucial factor in how YHWH shows himself to be God of the whole world and not of Israel only (cf. Rom. 3:21-22, 28-30; Eph. 2:11-22)”.

               Are you getting it yet? The whole context of Scripture was and is Gods’ relationship with His people- Israel. What we see occurring through their salvation would be a “light to the Gentiles” (for clarification purposes: Gentiles are all who are not Jewish). We (Gentiles) can give God glory because of how He has shown Himself faithful to His people and now through Jesus Christ we are welcomed into that ‘covenant relationship’ “ meaning that they (or we) in turn were delivered from the wrath of God against the idolatrous, immoral and unrighteous pagan world, to share in the life of the age to come”.

“But what about Jesus dying for my sins?”

… the New Testament is otherwise not much concerned to assert that Jesus died for any particular person’s sins. The point is not made with regard to any particular Jew in the Gospels or any particular Gentile in Acts. Neither Cornelius nor the Philippian jailer are “saved” by believing that Jesus died for their sins; they are saved by believing that God had made Jesus Lord and judge (Acts 10:42-45; 16:31). The pagans of Antioch in Pisidia are “saved” because they believed that God had brought a saviour to Israel (Acts 13:23, 38-39, 48). Nowhere in Acts are Gentiles told to believe that Jesus died for their sins. What mattered to the Gentiles was that God had made him judge and Lord of the nations (cf. Rom. 10:9, 13). When they came to believe that, they repented of their idolatry and its associated “sins”—in effect, they repented of their culture—and were forgiven. They received the Spirit, and so were incorporated into the redeemed people of God”.

               I absolutely loved Andrew Perriman’s blog about Acts chapter 13:

“Paul briefly tells the story of Israel from the patriarchs to David, and then claims that from David’s offspring “God has brought to Israel a Saviour, Jesus, as he had promised” (13:17-23). When we hear the word “Saviour”, we instinctively think of the cross, but I would suggest that, as elsewhere in the New Testament, the salvation of Israel is a future event: Jesus is the one who will save a remnant of Israel when the day of God’s judgment comes (cf. Acts 3:19-21). Salvation means escaping the coming wrath of God against his people. Individuals must believe, repent, be forgiven, and receive the Holy Spirit, but only in the context of this narration. When the Gentiles hear this, they rejoice and glorify the “word of the Lord”, and those who were appointed to share in the corporate life of the people of God following judgment, the life of the age to come, believe what the Jews have not believed, namely that God is saving his people by making Jesus king of Israel and judge and ruler of the nations (13:48). In this way the believing Gentiles become part of a saved people”.

               That’s the gospel that Jesus and the Apostles preached! What we believe is that we as individuals would have no place in the corporate body of Christ (where the blessings of being His chosen people are) unless salvation was given to the Jews and became a light to the Gentiles. That my friends, is the kingdom of God- the new heavens and new earth. The highlighted ‘evangelical’ emphasis on personal salvation not only completely destroys the historicity of the Biblical gospel, but goes about to create a new one.”…it takes a large political narrative about Israel, pagan empire, and the future existence of the people of God and hacks it down to the dimensions of a personal narrative of salvation and life after death. Secondly, it takes a particular historical narrative and converts it into a universalized narrative that no longer has anything to do with the vicissitudes and accidents of history”. As for my God, He is not the author of confusion!

“The narrative-historical approach does not in the least leave the modern church—or the modern world—with no compelling interest in the content of the New Testament. On the contrary, I would argue that it provides us with a much more rigorous and credible connection with the scriptures than the selective, reductive and distorting approach of much modern evangelical theology”.

               Once we take notice of the problematic “individual focus” of the ‘evangelical “gospel”’ we can then see how “futurism” has prevailed. We put our individual selves in the story- “I will see the Lord come again”, “I will be resurrected to a new body”, “I will be judged”, rather than recognizing the corporate story and language used all throughout the Bible. A failure to see the gospel as fulfilling the hope of Israel and therefore understanding the context that is laid out throughout the Bible is nearly impossible. The false “gospel” creates a failure in understanding what WAS the salvation of every individual- the kingdom of God and instead replaces it with a personalized “eternal life”.

               I personally have come to the conclusion that “salvation” isn’t the current issue. “Salvation” in the Biblical context was fulfilled for Israel and all nations in AD 70 when the destruction came on the temple (the old system) and brought about the NEW. In evangelizing, I am not saving people from an afterlife hell, but rather a hell-on-earth, which is due to the absence of the knowledge of God. I believe the “salvation”, if I may use the term outside of its’ historical context, of today is for people to be saved from the failure of anything in this ‘world’ to offer fulfillment, since Jesus along brings “life to the full” (John 10:10). By learning the teachings of Jesus Christ, every man and woman can build a “foundation upon the rock” and be “set free” from the lies of this world (Matthew 7:24-27; John 8:31-32).

               The other night I was the third party to a conversation that went like this:

ONE GUY: “I don’t believe that God would send a bunch of people to hell because they didn’t know of Him or didn’t believe in Him. Look at Buddhists, there are plenty of good Buddhists, why would they go to hell”.

SECOND GUY: “God is perfect therefore up against His perfectness all men are sinners. In the deeper parts of that Buddhists mind, he is a sinner, he doesn’t so everything right. Doesn’t ALWAYS live in love”.

               As I sat there and simply listened to this conversation, I had so many thoughts. What have “we” “pitched as the gospel”? What’s up with the obsession with the afterlife? I so wanted to intercede and explain that I agree there are good Buddhists and I don’t see God sending them to hell because they didn’t accept a certain message, but wouldn’t they want to be encouraged to grow in Truth? That’s the gospel for today- grow in the grace and knowledge of God- build a solid foundation upon His teachings of Truth. In Scripture we do not see an obsession with the afterlife in another realm, but rather the afterlife of the ‘age to come’ which began in AD 70. It’s about life in the here and now!

               I have come to realize that it isn’t necessarily that many people are rejecting the Truth of Jesus Christ, rather the fact of the matter is, they are not hearing it at all. Majority of “Christians” don’t read the Bible therefore are not preaching the Biblical gospel. Talk about a ‘salvation issue’!

So I repeat my points from above: “salvation in the New Testament is a political matter that has radical implications, first for Jews, then for Gentiles. Jesus dies as part of Israel’s story; he is raised from the dead as part of Israel’s story; and as Israel’s new king, he will come to judge and rule over the nations. What we see at the end of this incident and at the end of the account of Cornelius’ conversion in chapter 10 is what happens when the Gentiles believe this new story about Israel. If we reduce this all down to “Jesus died for my sins”, we are bound to lose sight of the political narrative and its implications for understanding the place of the people of God in the world”.

“A narrative-historical reading of the New Testament suggests that the “gospel” is the proclamation of what God did for his people during a period of eschatological crisis. The personal dimensions to faith have to be worked out in relation to the “political” narrative. One consequence is that at the personal level evangelism is not so much the offer of salvation as the call to become part of an obedient community that bears witness—always fallibly, always on the basis of grace—to the full scope of creational righteousness. That requires personal “salvation”, but as a means to a missional end. Once we get this clear, there are countless ways in which both the Old and the New Testament can be used to instruct the church in practical creational righteousness”- Andrew Perriman

To read more about Andrew Perriman and his awesome blogs, visit www.postost.net

               Until next time…let us continue to bring ‘healing to the nations’ by spreading the message of a faithful God and how He fulfilled His promises! That’s the gospel of salvation!

               Blessings in Christ,

                              Michael Miano

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Wolves and the False Teaching of “a Future Second Coming of Jesus”

Have you ever noticed that we are warned about wolves and false teaching all throughout the New Testament? What I gather from this is that they are dangerous, especially when they among the sheep and the sheep don’t know the difference (Matthew 7:15). With everyone calling each other “wolves”, “false teachers”, and “heretics”…how does one know who the true wolf is? (Considering that I have been labeled a “wolf” and blogged about in the past).

I believe the Bereans in Acts chapter 17 verse 11 were on to something. What do you think? Considering that the Apostle Paul told Timothy that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17)”.

So, how do you suppose these “wolves” go about their mission? Scripture tells us that they will come to us in sheep’s clothing, which means they will fit in. Matthew 7:15-23 gives us a great way to recognize them. Also, in 2 Corinthians 11: 1-11 speaks about the false apostles that would come and preach a different jesus, a different gospel. 2,000 years removed, it’s hard to figure out who the True Jesus and the True gospel is, huh? Especially when deception, twisting of the Scripture, and popular approval comes into play. Consider what we see the religious leaders in Jesus’ day doing. They twist what Jesus says, make assumptions as to what He means, and lie about His intent at every end they can. It’s a sad day when false teachers call the true teachers false. Oh so confusing it is!

BUT…WE HAVE BEEN WARNED!!

               “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them- bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways AND WILL BRING THE WAY OF TRUTH INTO DISREPUTE (2 Peter 1:20-2:2)”.

Does that remind you of John Nelson Darby and his crapture teachings? We could go on and on, and sadly these “secretly introduced” teachings have gained popularity, even to the detriment that many think that is Biblical Christianity. YIKES!

The lack of Biblical literacy has made it easy for false teaching. False teachers do what the devil did with the scripture when he quoted it to Jesus. They quote true things and lift them out of their context. The Apostle Peter explains that some of Paul’s writings “contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do other Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16)”.

Being that we are told to be aware of the false teachers, to rebuke false teachers and teachings, and to encourage sound doctrine, wouldn’t that imply that we would be able to know true from false? But how? Also, wouldn’t that mean some are wrong? This isn’t relativism, this is the narrow Way!!

Paul tells Timothy (contextual notes MINE):

       “But as for you (Timothy), continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of (the message spoken by Christ and the Apostles- 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11; Galatians 1:8-9), because you know those from whom you learned it (2 Timothy 1:13), and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which ARE ABLE TO MAKE YOU WISE FOR SALVATION through faith in Jesus Christ. All SCRIPTURE is useful for TEACHING, REBUKING, CORRECTING, and TRAINING in righteousness, so that the man of God may be THOROUGHLY EQUIPPED FOR EVERY GOOD WORK (2 Timothy 3:14-17)”.

               So when we see something that is not in line with the context of the Scriptures (the need to understand hermeneutics is big today- audience relevance, time statements, apocalyptic language, etc..), what are we to do? Paul writes to Titus and tells him to straighten out what was left unfinished in Crete, and here we can get some useful advice. When telling Titus about appointer elders in the Church he finished with explaining that “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message AS IT HAS BEEN TAUGHT, so that he can encourage others by SOUND DOCTRINE, and REFUTE THOSE WHO OPPOSE IT (Titus 1:9). Also as you read through Titus chapter 2 you will see the concept of rebuking false teachings again. As I have pointed out, it was important that the same gospel being preached by the Apostles was continued (1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Galatians 1:6-8), therefore men & women of God were commanded to “contend for the faith  that was ONCE FOR ALL entrusted to the saints (Jude 3)”.

Sadly today, many are even being taught against rebuking false teachings and demolishing strongholds. This is veiled with talk such as “love one another” and the promotion of a false sense of “unity”. FACT: True love hurts and tells the Truth. A false sense of “unity” is not unity that is spoken of throughout the Scriptures. God does not desire to be worshiped absent the Truth!

A prime example can be the false view of a future “coming of the Lord”. This is a misconception that has crept in to the Church as early as the first century, and has gained quite the foothold. The lack of an “eschatological council” to discuss these things and the lack of critical study on these matters, usually said to not be “salvation matters”, have further propagated this false teaching.

Why is the “Future Second Coming of Jesus” Teaching So Dangerous?

               In light of Scripture evidence that Christ promised to come while some of His generation was alive (Matthew 16:28 & Matthew 24:34), many still arrive at the conclusion of “why does it matter?”.

Well, check out these teachings of Jesus Christ:

   “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:23-24)”.

“To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32)”.

               So in response, do you mean why does it matter besides the fact that God desires to be worshiped in Spirit and Truth and Jesus made a big “IF” one holds to His teachings they are set free?

The reality is that in light of Scriptural evidence, we can decide that it’s not that important to understand the Truth or worry about the necessity of understanding Jesus’ teaching concerning “His coming”, which leads to an oddly “universalistic” or “mystic” teaching and makes the Bible completely unnecessary. OR, Jesus lied! Either Jesus meant what He said to the Apostles or he lied to them and was a false prophet and deserved exactly what he received! What sort of taste does that leave in your mouth?

To those who say that we cannot understand the teachings of Jesus- that’s ridiculous and again would make no sense out of Jesus even saying those things to the Apostles or God requiring to be worshiped in Truth (if we cannot know the Truth)! Plus…we then cannot even know if Jesus was the Christ- because we can’t understand prophecy!!! See how dumbed down this gets?

Due to the complacency of “Christians” to know and understand Biblical Truth we end up with a completely distorted gospel message (exactly what we were warned against) and we get an odd jesus. A jesus you accept into your heart, who is your homeboy, your lover or obsession, which ultimately becomes foolish nonsense that has no historical credibility. We end up having no way to even prove the Christian faith.

Worse yet, as Gary DeMar recently pointed out in an article speaking about the teachings of John MacArthur, a false view of the gospel hope leads to a hopeless gospel! You can read that article here:  http://americanvision.org/6270/john-macarthur-there-is-no-hope-for-a-better-world/

Futurism continually has to arrive at and teach new scenarios every so often to fix the nonsense and lies they taught in the past. This leads to the snowball effect of false teaching, as we have seen throughout history- THANK GOD FOR THE INFORMATION AGE!!

All of this confusion comes up in plenty of the conversations I have. Sadly, I have seen this lead to apathy & complacency in regards to “Christians” seeking to understand the Scriptures and therefore leads to more and more false views. Have we just thrown out the aspect of study to show thyself APPROVED? Apparently, we have a lot more unapproved “Christians” running around, huh?

I’ll tell you what. We have launched a campaign called ASK YOUR PASTOR which we encourage Christians to ask their pastors about Matthew chapter 16 verse 28 and Matthew 24:34. Have you done so? Most pastors try to make their flocks complacent and ignore Biblical Truth. Have YOU asked your pastor?

I hear a lot of people say that harping on this is causing division in the body, which is ironic because AMEN, that is what Jesus said the Word of God would do. It is a sword that would set people against one another (Matthew 10:34-39; Hebrews 4:12). Lies cause division and make things confusing. Today, as men and women of God search the Scriptures we see a reformation happening, it has been emerging for quite some time, a move of God thanks to the information age.  BUT, those who are well vested in the institution don’t want things to change. So they ostracize those seeking to REFORM in light of the Scriptures. I personally have experienced this. Ostracized as heretics, false teachers, those not in favor of unity, etc… Why not call the reformers- those that desire to worship God in Spirit and Truth?

I refuse to call men and women who fail to study to show themselves APPROVED and are willing to be intellectually dishonest – Christians. That is anti-Christ and leads to ostracism, confusion, and a complete disregard of Biblical Truth.

In Christ,

Michael Miano

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The Rise of Relativism & the Lack of Persecution

As I just now come out of yet another confusing conversation with another “Christian”, I am dismayed by the lack of a Biblically understood gospel and the seemingly rise of another gospel, another jesus, and another hope.

               Why is it this way?

               We see a sort of “mustard seed reformation” happening in the body of Christ. The rise of Biblical literacy, the rise of “encouraging sound doctrine and rebuking false teaching (Titus 1:9; 2:1)”, and the rise of critical thinking (thank God for the information age).

               “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and MANY enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and ONLY A FEW FIND IT (Matthew 7:13-14)”.

“So pastor Mike, how is it possible that a large majority of the so-called “church” has been led astray and believes false doctrine? How come only a few see Truth in what you’re saying?”

Today, we face a crisis. Let’s face it, due to the rise of “nominal Christianity”- many call it “churchianity” which has its’ beginning with the Edict of Milan (313 A.D), the captivity of Truth in the Scriptures at the hands of the Catholic Church for centuries, and the dumbing down of the salvation message- we have flung the doors wide open to false information. This began to happen in the early church (Jude 4) and sadly has continued in large proportions to our day.

Is it therefore a surprise when true doctrine is taught, so many reject it or are confused by it? What do we do when the truth is being called the false? How to we discern? What is the Christian response?

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)”.

“But as for you (Timothy), continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of (the message spoken by Christ and the Apostles- 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11; Galatians 1:8-9), because you know those from whom you learned it (2 Timothy 1:13), and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which ARE ABLE TO MAKE YOU WISE FOR SALVATION through faith in Jesus Christ. All SCRIPTURE is useful for TEACHING, REBUKING, CORRECTING, and TRAINING in righteousness, so that the man of God may be THOROUGHLY EQUIPPED FOR EVERY GOOD WORK (2 Timothy 3:14-17)”.

               I continually curse the Edict of Milan because once Christianity was allowed to be a nominal religion, pushed further by American Evangelicalism’s Individualist Mentality; all sorts of views have been accepted and put under the heading of “Jesus Christ”. Charles Spurgeon once noted, “I believe a very large majority of church goers are merely unthinking, slumbering worshipers of an unknown God”.

Recently I wrote a blog titled “Zeal Without Knowledge – A Dumbed Down Salvation” in which I detailed how the popular expression of the gospel has misled many and used a recent Christianity Today article which discussed the immaturity of “American Christianity”.

“As they listen to years of simplified messages that emphasize an emotional relationship with Jesus over intellectual content, teenagers learn that a well-articulated belief system is unimportant and might even become an obstacle to authentic faith. This feel-good faith works because it appeals to teenage desires for fun and belonging. It casts a wide net by dumbing down Christianity to the lowest common denominator of adolescent cognitive development and religious motivation.”

The writer of the article explained this version of Christianity as a FALSE CHRISTIANITY, which should be termed Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. This is a far stretch from faith and following the God who “desires those who worship Him in Spirit and Truth (John 4:23)”. Consider the results:

“Juvenilization tends to create a self-centered, emotionally driven, and intellectually empty faith. In their landmark National Study of Youth and Religion, Christian Smith and his team of researchers found that the majority of American teenagers, even those who are highly involved in church activities, are inarticulate about religious matters. They seldom used words like faith, salvation, sin, or even Jesus to describe their beliefs. Instead, they return again and again to the language of personal fulfillment to describe why God and Christianity are important to them.”

Some other writers and Christian leaders have said:

“Most Christians nowadays simply don’t care about the prevalence of false doctrine, nor do they take seriously their duty to fight against apostasy.” – John MacArthur

He also said it this way, “Refusing to acknowledge and defend the revealed truth of God is a particularly stubborn and pernicious kind of unbelief.” He says elsewhere, “It seems there is no shortage of people nowadays willing to kill for a lie. Yet few seem to be willing to speak up for truth – much less die for it.”

Jim Castelli said  “Americans revere the Bible but, by and large, they don’t read it.”

               Time magazine observed in a 2007 cover story that only half of U.S. adults could name one of the four Gospels. Fewer than half could identify Genesis as the Bible’s first book. Jay Leno and Stephen Colbert have made sport of Americans’ inability to name the Ten Commandments—even among members of Congress who have pushed to have them posted publicly.

Even more frightening, take a second to Google- Biblical illiteracy. Forgive me (or not) for the lack of a politically correct way of expressing myself- WTF!!! WTF is going on in the Church? No wonder people are so confused.

A message that I have “wore out” talking about which was preached by Larry Siegle when he preached at New Covenant Eyes Church was about “Death in the Pot”. He preached about how we yet again have a famine in the land (2 Kings 4:38-41; Amos 8:11) and just anything is being thrown in the pot- look at the nonsense coming from a large majority of televised preaching. The good news is- God is faithful as always- and is raising up a generation of “Bereans”. Dare we call it a reformation?

Want to “get with the program” so to speak? A great read of Christianity history and how things have gotten a bit confused is The Road Back to Preterism by Kurt Simmons.

http://www.preteristcentral.com/The%20Road%20Back%20to%20Preterism.html

               Due to Biblical illiteracy many have just accepted the notion that “there are so many views so we will never know”. How does that line up with Galatians 1:6-8, or Titus 1:9? Not very well, huh? I find the rise of “relativism” to be quite depressing, especially when I “study to show myself approved” then am debated by those who have a low view of Scripture, and then left with a “fist bump” and “that’s good that you’re seeking to know more”. Can we say COMPLACENCY?

RELATIVISM DEFINED- is the philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid, and that all truth is relative to the individual.

               Consider for a moment that Jesus said, “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved”. Does this sound like a “believe what you want” type of message? Doesn’t make any damn sense then! Imagine if Jesus said that all views were ok, He would have never been killed, the Apostles wouldn’t have been killed, and everything would have been fine and dandy. Well…sort of. J

The early Christians were promised persecution by Christ because they submitted to His teachings of his kingdom and therefore that would put them at odds with the religion and the political landscape. Today, in 21st century, pagan “Christian” America the “attacks on Christianity” are a bit different. Moralistic Christianity heaps abuse on itself as it seeks to conform to the politically correct whims and woes of the middle-class “conservatives”, therefore changing certain views time to time. Scientific Christianity again heaps abuse on itself by seeking to make the Bible about rocks and geography, rather than let it be about the “Rock of the Ages”. Many Christians scream “conspiracy” at the sound of any scientific evidence that shows the Bible to not be about the creation of the world, etc…that should remind us of Copernicus. Even personally, many “Christians” being ignorant of the Scriptures and operating under the paradigm of what their pastor taught them- scream persecution or heresy whenever their views are challenged- which yet again is not persecution, but an indictment against them for being ignorant of the Scriptures they profess to be true. What we have today is hardly the persecution, or the “war with the world” as many would have us see it. Rather we see ‘reformation’ happening- a change of the whole Christian landscape.

Time will prove who were the Christians with the attitude of “Bereans” and listened to the teachings of Jesus Christ, and who just claimed the name of fame- whether for social reasons or to avoid the Hellenized version of “hell”.

Flee the bullshit! Search the Scriptures!

 “God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in Spirit and Truth (John 4:24)”.

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