Monthly Archives: October 2012

TRANSITION Part 1: “Already/ Not Yet” and the Time of Reformation (Hebrews 9)

“Christians today take great joy and comfort in declaring the completed work of Christ for salvation. In fact, such blessedness and assurance is naturally assumed and taken for granted. However, a careful examination of the “already/not yet” construct reveals that the proclamation of a completed salvation and redemption for the saints can only be justified from a preterist perspective.”

               I went to a friend’s church about a month ago and listened as he preached about all the blessings and grace that are OURS in the New Covenant. As I sat there I began to think:

               Well, in the New Testament they seemed to be waiting on something…something imminent.

The “already/not yet” context explains this. Many erroneously believe that we are still in the transition period that was “at hand”, occurring “soon”, in that “generation” that we read about in the New Testament. A while back I had attended a conference that continued to speak on the implications of “already/not yet”, but when I took a glance at their notes they didn’t use any Scripture references. Why?

               I imagine for starters that if those who preach this “already/not yet” message are consistent and allow the Scriptures to explain things- they would end up admitting that something is very, very wrong. Faulty Bible hermeneutics (interpretation) have led to an inconsistent message, one that is especially foreign to the New Testament audience.

“The question for the citizens of the New Testament age, therefore, is as follows: “did Christ’s blood sacrifice at AD30 actually complete the atonement process, delivering a full and complete salvation to the People of God?” The shocking answer is “no.””

               A major issue that is clearly seen in “Christian thought” today is the failure to recognize the principles of ‘audience relevance’. Who were the people being saved? To whom were the promises of the New Covenant made? An intellectually honest response would be- Israel. Thus is why the Bible says stuff like:

“He answered, “I was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24)”.

 “These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6)”.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25)”.

“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed (Luke 2:34)”.

“You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22)”.

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16)”.

“But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those under the Law, that we might receive the full rights as sons (Galatians 4:4-6)”.

               In Ephesians 1:14 and 4:30 we read about those who were seal for the day of redemption. This is talking about Gods’ covenant people, Israel. Israel’s salvation would occur at the second coming. We need not add some off “dispensational” nonsense which has caused so much confusion in contrast to the theme of Scripture (God’s covenant relationship with Israel)! The book of Hebrews gives us a detail by detail description of the Old Covenant contrasted with the coming new one (Hebrews 8:13).

“While some aspect of Messianic blessedness was understood as being “already” in the ascension and person of Jesus Christ, the tangible aspects of Messianic blessedness for the rest of the saints were “not yet.””

               I always read Hebrews 9:28 to people to help them understand the transition period. A boat load of intellectual dishonesty and false teaching have risen from misunderstanding the context of this verse. Read Hebrews chapters 8-9, if you have time read the whole book.

               “So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people: and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him (Hebrews 9:28)”.

               Do you see an issue here? If you are still waiting on Jesus Christ to come out of the “true tabernacle” you are still waiting in fear and trembling for salvation. This is what is going on in the New Testament. The imagery being used here is drawn from Leviticus chapter 16, the Day of Atonement. Clearly, this text is dealing with Gods’ redemption of His covenant people. They would have understood this imagery, ironically the book is the book of Hebrews. Hello!!!

“The realities of the new system would be delivered to the saints at the return of Christ back out of the Holy of Holies — that is, once his priestly Day-of-Atonement duties were accomplished for His people (Heb 9:23-28). While the first fruits saints were anxiously awaiting the completed work of their High Priest in the Holy of Holies, it remained a fact that many soteriological benefits were yet unfulfilled and undelivered to them”.

Let’s look:

               As I have shown above with the Ephesians and Hebrews references “redemption” & “salvation” had yet to be attained prior to the appearance a “second time”. In Romans 13:11 it talks about the understanding the “present time” (which was the transition period) and how salvation was nearer then when they first believed. How do you not notice the imminence of that statement? 1 Peter 1:3-9 gives an awesome insight of the “coming of salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time”. Also, Hebrews 10:32-39 gives those going through the transition period the admonition to keep the faith until they are saved. As Jesus said, “…he who stands firm to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10:22)”.

Misunderstanding the “present age” and the “age to come” also creates a dilemma. The 1st century generation was living in the “present age”, the “end of the ages”, which explains why Jesus’ disciples asked about the “end of the age (Matthew 24:3)”. In Mark chapter 10, Jesus explains this: “I tell you the truth, Jesus replied, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in THIS PRESENT AGE (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields- and with them persecutions) and in the AGE TO COME, eternal life”. The same sentiment is written in 1 Timothy 6:19 concerning eternal life in the coming age. In the present age was the hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2, Jude 21).

A failure to understand what was coming, what was the reward, and so forth has led to some wild assumptions. A reading of the Old Testament as a whole helps one better understand what is going on through the New Testament. Who reads the NEW without reading the OLD?!?!?

Are you in the kingdom of God? 2 Peter 1:11 explains the welcome into the kingdom which comes after the “coming of the Lord” in Revelation chapters 21-22. This would be the home of righteousness (2 Peter 3:13). A spiritual place (John chapter 3) where His servants would see His face.

In Galatians 5:5 we read of the saints “eagerly waiting” for the spirit of RIGHTEOUSNESS. For all the “grace-preachers”, grace is given when Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:13).

               To be honest at this point, I must admit, this blog is hard for me to write since it is so evident- even from a surface reading of the text- that there was something imminent in the New Testament which “hope” was resting upon. Ignoring ‘audience relevance’ and the clear ‘time statements’ is so intellectually dishonest that is becomes complicated to show simple truth.

“By calling this covenant “new”, He has made the first one obsolete, and what is obsolete and aging will SOON disappear (Hebrews 8:13)”.

“This is an illustration for the PRESENT TIME, indicating the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings- external regulations applying UNTIL the time of the new order (Hebrews 9:9-10)”.

READ ALL OF HEBREWS 9! WHO WERE UNDER THE 1ST COVENANT? WHEN DID THEY RECEIVE THE INHERITANCE? LOOK AT THE EPHESIANS PASSAGES MENTIONED ABOVE!

“The Law is only a shadow of the good things THAT ARE COMING- not the realities themselves (Hebrews 10:1)”.

               Jesus Christ came to set the captives free, to lead men to the promised land (Hebrews 12 speaks about this). The type and shadow of this is when Moses set the captives free in Egypt and led them through the wilderness. The transition time from the sacrifice of Christ on the cross to 70 AD (the atonement) is similar to the wilderness period. They were free but not in the promised land YET.

“…It was the destruction of the earthly Temple that was the signal to all that the way into the true Holy place was available to the saints forevermore. That old system had to be removed that God could establish the second (Heb 10:9) — yet the first system wasn’t gone yet as of the time the book of Hebrews was written (Heb 8:13)”.

“The writer of Hebrews understood the old covenant has been made obsolete by Christ, but he also knew it had not been completely removed for the Hebrew Christians in his day. Paul circumcised Timothy, the son of a Jewess, to maintain a good testimony to the Jews. Paul also appeared in the temple to undergo purification according to the Law of Moses. The entire Judaic system was “growing old” and was, at the time of the writing of Hebrews, “ready to vanish away” That happened in AD 70”.- Beyond Creation Science

To those who say that the Spiritual realities were given at the cross or Pentecost, yes and no. As I have shown through this blog…there was something being waited upon. That cannot and must not be ignored. If the pop-culture “Christianity” is not being properly taught what Israel was being saved from (the law of sin and death), sure enough, they will not recognize the proper gospel that saves them. So many today are like ungrateful children who do not accept the reward that has been given but rather want more. “Surely, this isn’t the “new heavens and the new earth”!”. Do you think that glorifies God?

               Surely, the first century audience and recipients of Gods’ reward- the new heavens and new earth- knew what that was. With proper hermeneutics (interpretation) and firm Bible teaching regardless to creeds and man-made doctrines we can truly “study to show ourselves approved”.

               Sure enough, enough the Jewish historian Josephus knew that when the “heavens and earth”- the Temple as the Jews knew it- was destroyed that God had removed Himself from that system.

“And this seems to me to have been the reason why God, out of his hatred of these men’s wickedness, rejected our city; and as for the temple, he no longer esteemed it sufficiently pure for him to inhabit therein, but brought the Romans upon us, and threw a fire upon the city to purge it; and brought upon us, our wives, and children, slavery, as desirous to make us wiser by our calamities”. -Josephus

               In the next part of this blog series we will discuss what exactly the “hope of Israel” was and how this relates to the transition period of the first century Church.

               Blessings in Christ,

       Mike Miano

Be sure to read:

Beyond Creation Science by Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn

Articles:

http://www.preteristcentral.com/The%20Time%20of%20Reformation.html     – I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusions of this article but still a good resource

http://www.preteristvision.org/articles/already_not_yet.htmlv – great article

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As a Matter of Fact (Evidence for the Christian Faith)

               At least once a week I will get into discussion with someone who is skeptical of Christianity. I love these discussions because they give me opportunity to challenge myself to learn as well as the opportunity to “always have an answer (1 Peter 3:15)”.

               Lately, I have noticed that the “conspiracy theorist movement” has a strong following and many people see the facts that line up to prove a “New World Order” involving groups such as the Illuminati, Council on Foreign Relations, the Freemasons, and many others. For example a Facebook post I noticed this week was:

   “please take the time to educate yourself about what’s really Going on in this world. Some things to start off with are 1. The Bible especially Revelations 2. Bilderberg Group 3. Tavistock institute 4. Illuminati 5. Knights of Templar 6. Technotronics 7.48 laws of power 8. The Art of War 9. Behold a Pale Horse 10.Aquarian Conspiracy 11. Khomeini 12. Henry Kissinger 13. George Soros 14. Rothschilds 15. Rockefellers 16. British “Royal” Family 17. William Cooper (R.I.P.) 18. 2pac (makaveli) 19. Project Blue Dream 20. Codex Alimentarius 21. Annunaki 22. “Protocols of the learned Elders of Zion” 23. Eye of Horus/Lucifer 24. Freemasonry 25. Council of 300 26. HAARP and those are just a few. Here are some useful websites. #TrueEnlightenment”.

               Now, I would say reading into a lot of that stuff is very important and helps develop critical thinking skills, just as I say it is wise to study all sorts of religious, philosophical, and historical writings. Also, a fascination with science (evolution), the 4th dimension, 2012, the solar system, and many other science-based ideas that are filled with theory seem to captive many minds today.

               Since many have continually told that that they admire my efforts to teach the true historical aspects of Christianity and many look to me as a “Truth-seeker” as well as a “Truth-teller”, I want to make the evidence of the Christian faith plain and clear. First and foremost, let me say this- THE EVIDENCE FOR THE CHRISTIAN FAITH BLOWS ALL OTHER INFORMATION OUT OF THE WATER! That is why Jesus was able to say:

               “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash (Matthew 7:24-27)”.

So here we go.

First we must prove historically that a man named Jesus who was claimed by some to be the Messiah of Israel actually existed, right?

  Josephus a 1st century Roman-Jewish historian accounts of the Roman-Jewish War and his works have survived up until this day. In his writings he says:

               “Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works- a teacher of such men as receive the truth with such pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day (and that was written around 94 A.D.)”.

*Please note there are some aspects of the above quote that have been challenged by possible change in the 3rd and 4th century but it still does not change the historical fact that Jesus lived!

               If Josephus’ writings are not enough the establish the historical fact that Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Jesus Christ, existed in the first century there are a host of other reliable evidences. The Babylonian Talmud- Jewish writings- which are a compilation over the centuries have accounts of Jesus as a “false messiah” in the first century.

               Around 106-112 A.D., Pliny the Younger was governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. A well preserved writing to the Roman emperor Trajan has survived and says:

“In the meantime, the method I have observed towards those who have been denounced to me as Christians is this: I interrogated them whether they were in fact Christians; if they confessed it, I repeated the question twice, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed.

“…They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to perform any wicked deed, never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to make it good; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food – but food of an ordinary and innocent kind”.

               Here we know that the Christians in the times of 106 A.D.  assembled as a group and were being persecuted. Lucian, a Greek satirist writes something similar in 170 A.D.:

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day – the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account… You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed upon them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws”.

               The prophetic reasoning and the historical evidence given to support the fact that Jesus Christ was crucified under Pontius Pilate who was the Roman procurator from A.D. 26-36 is overwhelming. Here Roman historian and senator who wrote around 116 A.D. writes:

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind”.

               Now, it is quite simple to establish the historical validity of the man named Jesus who was called the Christ existing. The real “controversy” begins with the “supernatural events” such as his resurrection which if true qualifies Him to be the Messiah. From the Biblical records we have Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-9; John 20:1-18; and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. It is Biblically recorded that Jesus died on the cross and was buried and then 3 days later rose from the dead- this is what His followers believed.

“I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of human beings–or it is the most remarkable fact of history.”

               The main thing that amazes me is the silence of history regarding the empty tomb. If you read the Biblical account of Matthew 28:11-15, take notice that they know the body is not in the tomb, that was and is universally recognized. So the theories begin to fly…what happened to the body of Jesus Christ? In the first century, if this was a lie, it could have been shut up rather quickly all they would have to do is roll the stone away and see the body- BUT THERE WAS NO BODY! What happened?

               Remember…there was a lot of hostility toward the early “Christian” movement, so any way they could have discredited the movement they would have used. But no one said that the body was there.  There are both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions that acknowledge an empty tomb. These sources range from the Jewish historian Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish writings called the Toledoth Jeshu. Maier calls this positive evidence from a hostile source, which is the strongest kind of historical evidence.

“…you have sent chosen and ordained men throughout all the world to proclaim that a godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilean deceiver, whom we crucified, but His disciples stole Him by night from the tomb, where He was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that He has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven.”

               Jesus said that the only sign that wicked and perverse generation would see what the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:38-45). Any idea what that was? Read the book of Jonah. So…the defense put up to the empty tomb is that the disciples stole the body. For what? To further a lie that would get them killed? Come on now! That’s ridiculous.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched- this we proclaim concerning the Word of life (1 John 1:1)”.

               If one is to read the accounts of what occurred during the time of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, especially regarding the apostle Thomas, how in the hell does one suppose that these men eventually died horrifying deaths to prove something they knew to be a lie? What did they have to gain? That’s a question that everyone seems to run away from. Coming to grips with that is what eventually led me to look into the Truth of Christianity, eventually being Spiritually led to claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

               Have you ever heard what happened to these men? Let’s take a minute to consider what these men gained from proclaiming that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead (go ahead read the entire book of Acts).  Click on the link below for an honest examination of the fate of the Apostles:

http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/03/what-happened-to-the-twelve-apostles-how-their-deaths-evidence-easter-2/

Many of Jesus followers were willing to die not because they believe in who Jesus was but rather that they had seen him raise from the dead that is what makes the claims of Christianity stand out stronger than any others. This wasn’t a “belief” it was a historical fact. The belief and/or faith came about by means of what you attested the importance of this resurrection as. Was Jesus everything He said He was/is?

               Now if that isn’t proof enough. Make sure you are sitting down for the next piece of evidence that blows everything out of the water, yet sadly isn’t known, understood, or utilized by most of Christianity.

               Let’s talk for a second about the Biblical writings. Whether you believe them to be inspired by God, historical writings, or whatever- you must come to terms with the fact that the gospels, even by the most liberal scholars, all date back to AD 50- AD 60. NO ONE DISPUTES THAT. Plus,the fact that they record the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth who lived during the AD 30’s. If you look at the teachings of Jesus in Matthew chapter 24; Mark chapter 13; and Luke chapter 21, Jesus speaks about a coming destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem and that the disciples should flee when they see this about to occur. According the Church historian Eusebius:

               “The whole body, however, of the church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine revelation, given to men of approved piety there before the war, removed from the city, and dwelt at a certain town beyond the Jordan, called Pella. Here those that believed in Christ, having removed from Jerusalem, as if holy men had entirely abandoned the royal city itself, and the whole land of Judea; the divine justice, for their crimes against Christ and his apostles finally overtook them, totally destroying the whole generation of these evildoers form the earth. (Eusebius, 3:5.)”.

               So…how did Jesus know about this to warn the disciples? This becomes even more odd when someone understands the Pax Romana that was in effect during the life of Christ, which only started experiencing disruption later in the AD 50’s. At bare minimum, if you acknowledge history and are not ignorant, you must admit that Jesus was a prophet. So…what do you make of His other claims? J

               As a Christ-follower, I acknowledge that Jesus Christ taught Truth, His teachings are the foundation upon which I can be fully assured of Truth and experience what He promised, “life and life to the full (John 10:10)”. I believe this LIFE can only be experienced when one comes to terms with the teachings of Jesus and is Spiritually born-again into the kingdom of God (John chapter 3). Truly being a critical thinker (Biblically referred to as a Berean) allows for a “zeal empowered by knowledge”, what I like to call being “FREAKED OUT”.

               Let me admit one thing. Sadly, false teaching began to creep into the Church in the 1st century and has had a field day since then. There are many commonly taught myths that are erroneously taught as truth, but is not. This is the “snowball effect” of false teaching. Start critically thinking today!

               At this point…the only way you can refuse to acknowledge the Truth of Christianity is to remain an ignoramus (ignoring the facts) or dwell on some sort of intellectually unfounded “conspiracy theory” regarding the Truth. If so…God be with you.

Sites to read concerning historical evidence:

http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4223639/k.567/Ancient_Evidence_for_Jesus_from_NonChristian_Sources.htm#text27

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