Monthly Archives: January 2013

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (It’s a COVENANT Thing)

Last week, I had a man who goes by the moniker “RiversofEden” as my guest on Miano Gone Wild. “RiversofEden” holds to a fulfilled perspective that limits all the implications of the New Covenant to “Israel of the Flesh”. You can listen to the podcast by clicking here:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/mianogonewild/2013/01/23/miano-gone-wild

Now let’s unpack some things before I get to the ‘meat and potatoes’ of what I am looking to say in this blog post. I hold to what is called “Full Preterism” which means that I believe the entirety of Bible prophecy is in the past. This is simply because of the time statements and the context of what was being prophesied in the New Testament- i.e. the fulfillment of the “hope of Israel”. This is where “RiversofEden” and I stand in agreement. Where we differ is how we come at the context of what is occurring. As I made public yesterday, I think the depth of the view I hold is best summarized as “Covenant Eschatology” which would show that in the New Testament a “covenant” was coming to an end (thus “eschatology” meaning “last things”).  “RiversofEden” and I contrast at this point, since he is very adamant about the fact that the promise of the “New Covenant” in Jeremiah chapter 31 was only made to the houses of Israel and Judah, and therefore had no “ongoing effect” for any other people. While I agree that the promise was to the “houses of Israel and Judah”, I completely disagree that this wasn’t intended to have an effect on “other nations”, i.e., “strangers” or “gentiles”. Allow me to explain.

“In the beginning”, God takes man (adam) and places him in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). The ‘garden of Eden’ is used as metaphor for land of blessing and promise (Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 36:35; Joel 2:3). Through Adam who violated the law given to him, he was removed from the garden and covered by God with animal skins, and given “curses and blessings” (Genesis 3:12-24). Type and shadow of God doing exactly that with Israel? Some have said so. Through Adam comes Cain, Abel, and Seth. After the death of Abel and the driving away of Cain, we only hear the lineage through Seth. Through Seth, Noah would eventually be born. Everyone knows the story of the flood, but oddly many assume this to be a world-wide flood, why? Yeah, something to consider for another time, eh? Noah’s family survives the flood and through his son, Shem, eventually will come Abram (who comes to be known as Abraham).

Abraham is called by the Lord and given blessings (Genesis chapter 12). Abraham has his ups and downs and eventually God establishes a covenant with Abraham (Genesis chapter 15 and chapter 17). The “natural” covenant that God made with Abraham was that his people would possess the land and many nations would come of them, circumcision would “seal the deal” (pun intended).  When God said that all nations would be blessed through Abraham’s seed (Genesis 22:17-18), it is important to remember that many nations were already in existence (Genesis chapters 10 and 17).

Through Isaac, who as given by the grace and promise of God, his seed would be reckoned (Genesis 21:12 although we know that this is truly done in and through Jesus Christ, Galatians chapter 3).  Isaac would give birth to Esau and Jacob, and the blessings would fall into the hands of Jacob (Genesis chapter 27). Jacob is later named “Israel” and it is through him that the 12 tribes of Israel would come into being.

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

So God calls Israel to Himself as He utilizes Moses to lead them out of Egypt, creates a covenant with them, establishes a covering called The Law, and says this:

“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all the nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:4-6)”.

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7:6)”.

So…why did God set apart a nation for Himself? Did this have an effect on the other nations?

“May God be gracious to US (Israel) and bless US and make His face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations (Psalm 67:1-2)”.

“See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will SHOW your wisdom and understanding TO THE NATIONS, who will hear about these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people”. What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to Him?” (Deuteronomy 4:5-7)”

It is my contention that God chose Israel and set them apart as a people unto Himself to demonstrate (show) His will for the nations-a set apart kingdom of wisdom and understanding! God’s presence was known to Israel, His judgments were demonstrated on and through Israel, and His blessing was upon Israel. Matter of fact this is what Paul says in Romans chapter 9:

  “…the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ…(Romans 9:4-5)”.

“He has revealed His word to Jacob, His laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know His laws. Praise the Lord (Psalm 147:19-20)”.

I call this “Hebrew Exclusivity”, since that is what we read about in the Old Testament. God has chosen Israel and throughout the Old Testament He is dealing with them.  Could others share in this?

“Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you… For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, INCLUDING THOSE BORN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD OR BOUGHT WITH YOUR MONEY, THEY MUST BE CIRCUMCISED. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people, he has broken my covenant (Genesis 17:9-14)”.

Did you catch that? Even the “strangers” had to be circumcised because they would share in the blessings of Abraham’s people. The Sabbath regulations also were mandated for those in the household (Exodus 20:10).

So when Israel went into slavery in Egypt for 400 years and then God was about to demonstrate His will for Israel, wouldn’t you imagine that this had an impact on Egyptians? Well sure enough when Moses was leading Israel out of bondage it is said that some of the Egyptians left as well.

  “Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock and herds (Exodus 12:38)”.

“The Lord said these are the regulations for the Passover: NO FOREIGNOR IS TO EAT OF IT. Any slave you have brought MAY EAT OF IT AFTER YOU HAVE CIRCUMCISED HIM, but a temporary resident and a hired worker may not eat if it (Exodus 12:43-45)”.

Well folks, that about sums it up, doesn’t it? No foreigner may eat of it. If they are circumcised they are allowed. Why? Because they have come into covenant as God had proposed to Abraham and was incorporated into the Law of Moses. (This nullifies the argument “RiversofEden” tries to use when citing verses such as Nehemiah 13:3; Ezra 10:11, 43). When a “foreigner is circumcised he is brought into the covenant relationship of Israel (after all, Passover was a thing for Israel, right?).

God fulfilled the exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land and we see that this had an effect on some of those in Egypt who left with the Israelites. They were then circumcised and could participate in the Passover blessings. Interestingly, in the book of Revelation chapter 11 verse 8, the “great city” is “figuratively called Sodom and Egypt”. When compared with Galatians 4:21-31, one can see the parallel of the literal story of Israel leaving Egypt, also the New Jerusalem being persecuted by the physical Jerusalem, but glory to God, Christ is the Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7).

So, I agree that what is written in the Old Testament and the New Testament were promises to Israel. After all, in Acts chapters 24, 26, and 28, the apostle Paul makes it very clear that all he has spoken about what “the hope of Israel”. That was/is the gospel. “RiversofEden” makes it a point to constantly point out that Jeremiah chapter 31 (which speaks of the New Covenant) was a promise made to the houses of Israel and Judah, and was a part of prophecy. This would therefore mean that under the construct of “ALL BIBLE PROPHECY FULFILLED” and Matthew 5:16-18, Jeremiah chapter 31 must be fulfilled.

Is anyone arguing against that? Nope! Heaven and Earth would not pass away until ALL was fulfilled. Sure enough, in Revelation chapter 20, the “heavens and earth” flee when the books of judgment are opened. What do we see happening in Revelation chapter 21? A “new heaven and a new earth” come down from heaven.

I do believe that the “hope of Israel” was entirely fulfilled in AD 70. “The old order passed away”- remember the “order” when Israel constantly had to be atoned for causing tears), or would be judged and displaced (the mourning that occurred), the sin and death under the Law? Do you remember these things? When is the last time you did them? You don’t! Why? Read Jeremiah 3:15-25.

Just as God chose Israel and made a covenant with her (“heaven and earth”), demonstrated His loving kindness to her in judgment and restoration, which served as an example to the nations- for example, those who followed Israel out of Egypt. The would also happen when God fulfilled all prophecy to natural Israel, the passing of “heaven and earth”, and demonstrated his judgment and restoration- this time in Spirit, at the establishment of the “new heavens and new earth”. Philippians chapter 3 gives a great illustration of the old contrasted to the new. Say goodbye to circumcision of the flesh! A temple made with hands. The “body” of sin and death.

Today, what is called “Covenant Eschatology” espouses these truths that come under constant attack. We believe in the fulfilled prophecies of “Israel of the flesh” and through God demonstrating Himself through judgment and resurrection, i.e, “the hope of Israel”. We can now “put on Jesus Christ”, or better said the “robes of righteousness (Revelation 22:14; Matthew 22:1-14; Isaiah 61:10 ) and “come into covenant with God” (Revelation 22:17).

Blessings in Christ,

Michael Miano

For more “good reading” dealing with this subject, check out these links:

http://donkpreston.com/the-mystery-of-god-revealed-guest-article-by-larry-siegle/

http://donkpreston.com/israel-hope-of-the-gentiles/

http://www.postost.net/2011/01/more-salvation-israel-response-nations

http://www.postost.net/2012/06/salvation-gentiles-antioch-pisidia

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Dear Mr. Christian,

               Over the past couple of weeks I have been studying and meditating on the Biblical gospel and reading through J.D. Greear’s book, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary. You have continually come to mind. We have talked here and there, and discussed our different views on the gospel. It has been my contention that you have a “zeal without knowledge (Romans 10)” very much similar to the religious leaders in Jesus’ day. I don’t blame you; rather I charge the institution which claims to be “teaching you the gospel”. It seems you have replaced the freedom and grace of God that is given through the New Covenant with “self-righteousness” and good morals. You have charged my position with giving “no hope” and no reason for a Believer to continue to live a “good and upstanding life”. Since I have admitted that I might enjoy a beer occasionally or even a shot of whiskey and even occasionally might smoke pot, you have taken the stance that my fulfilled view is due to my seeking to “live life the way I want” (kinda reminds me of the accusations made against the apostle Paul in Romans chapter 6). Well, besides the fact that I have explained and PROVEN the fulfilled “hope of Israel” to be the BIBLICAL gospel, time and time again, I have decided to take a different approach. Let’s see just how much your view and “your response” to the gospel is the antithesis to what is Biblically taught.  

There is a local pastor who continually reminds his congregants that they are “worthless pieces of monkey crap” in the eyes of a Holy God. According to Isaiah 64, I could agree with this sentiment, but the problem is that this pastor does not clearly explain what is “worthless” about us and the God honoring solution. Our “righteousness is as filthy rags” which clearly shows any attempt we make to please God by our own standard (our “fig leaves” of sorts) are abominable to God. God provided Christ as the “covering” “robes of righteousness” to cover the sins of Israel (and by extension the Gentiles). Notice the key word- God provided. At my recent debate a young man proclaimed that since I believe everything has been fulfilled- including judgment- I am therefore taking away his “hope” (a sort of future heavenly Disneyland) and leaving him with no fear of God’s judgment and no reason to “live Godly”.

Now if you want “religion” which will provide you with morals and so forth, yes they exist..Catholicism, Buddism, Islam, and many of the other “please God” style views can help you there. Granted, there will be different varieties and views (which is going to happen because of culture and personal opinions) but that is not Christianity. Rather when the Bible says, “Be not conformed to the ways of the world (Romans 12:2)”, or we are “in the world not of It (John 15:19)”, it was speaking about the ‘traditions of men’ that were so common in that context. I regularly speak about how ironic it is when a “Christian” will use these verses to proclaim “self-righteous living” when in actuality it was speaking the direct opposite- Do not conform the ways of the world (the traditions and regulations of the Pharisees) and be among them, but not of them. The Christians were marked by God’s grace and lived with a “zeal empowered by knowledge”, or as J.D. Greear said, “True love is a response to loveliness”. Love God!

               It seems that the futurist “judgment of works”, future fantasy heavenly Disneyland, and “self-righteousness” all work together to create a FALSE GOSPEL. If we are living in the FULFILLED HOPE and thus a reality today, we should just live however and forsake God. Thank God for the encouragement and discussion generated through J.D. Greear’s book to fix this “missing gospel”. Sure enough, J.D. Greear is not a “full preterist”, so maybe you will take his charge more serious than mine.

“The goal of the gospel is to produce a type of people consumed with PASSION FOR GOD AND LOVE FOR OTHERS. We certainly don’t seem to have that right. A Christian that does not have as its primary focus the deepening of passions for God is a FALSE CHRISTIANITY, NO MATTER HOW ZEALOUSLY IT SEEKS CONVERSIONS OR HOW FORCEFULLY IT ADVOCATES RIGHTEOUSNESS BEHAVIOR..”

So…how does one deepen passion for God? Well, you might think by living right and memorizing some Bible verses. Or looking toward some future hope. But remember the quote I posted above? “True love is a response to lovliness”. The more we learn about God and see how He works the more we fall in love and passionately pursue Him. Ah…a “zeal empowered by knowledge”.

 J.D. Greear continues to talk about the “behavioral modification gospel”, or focus on prayer, focus on the “Great Commission”, but then he says:

               “These things all have their place, but all we are doing is piling superficial changes onto a heart that doesn’t really love God”.  And what does this lead to? “This creates hypocrites, weary and resentful of God”. Yikes!!! Convicted yet?

               “…if the extent of your Christianity is achieving the right behavioral standard you are setting yourself up for disaster”. Instead of quoting the entire book, here I want to encourage you to get your hands on a copy and read page 30-31, which explains why “Religious Change” doesn’t work!

               So at this point we have seen the claims that behavior modification is the gospel and the truthfulness of the message is determined by our behavior modification is complete FALSE. FLEE THIS FALSE MENTALITY!

               “When our salvation depends upon our righteous behavior, our righteousness will be driven by a desire to elevate ourselves in the eyes of God. This is NOT love for God; it’s self-protection”.

               So…how and what effect does the fulfilled gospel, living in the reality of what God has done, have?

               “The gospel reawakens us to the beauty of God and overwhelms us with mercy. Our behavior changes because we change. Until that happens, ALL RELIGIOUS CHANGES WILL BE SUPERFICIAL. Even if you force yourself to act right, your heart will be going the other direction”.

               Are you falling for superficial changes? My friend, you know your heart. I know what I see externally coming from you. See why I thought of YOU when reading this book?

Instead of holding to a “behavior modification gospel” that leads me feeling that I need to live a certain way to obtain a reward, or escape being condemned to “the bad place”, instead the BIBLICALLY TRUE AND REASONABLE GOSPEL allows me to fall in love with God, and allow that to change me from the INSIDE OUT! Come on…you have song the song, right? Well, let that reality sink in.

               “That’s what happens when you meet God in the story of Jesus. You get swept up into a story of such cosmic drama and beauty that you are changed forever. Your behavior is radically altered because you’ve seen and tasted something from a completely different world”.

               On pages 84-85, of J.D. Greear’s book, he gives an awesome passage about “Freed to Enjoy the Rest”. I challenge you to get the book and read because this will help you live authentically in Christ and stop with the “religious bullshit”. Yes, I am calling it what it is.

               “Changed by Sight” is a chapter in the book, Gospel. This is my point exactly. “When the glory of God is seen in the gospel, changes occur naturally”. The problem is with your over personalized gospel, all you can see is YOU, and how it effects YOU, rather than the message being about the “glory of God”. This is why it is important to understand the Biblical gospel, i.e. the “hope of Israel”, and learn about God. Exodus 19 provides an awesome example of how God dealt with Israel and how this effected them. Let us learn, since as 1 Corinthians 10:11 states their experiences were put down as “examples”.

               Instead of fearing some futuristic “hell” or hoping toward a fantasy land future, we can understand our lives in Christ best by understanding – “the expulsive power of a new affection”- as spoken about by Thomas Chalmers. Far too many “religious Christians” are like balloons being swatted at to stay afloat, rather than letting the “helium of God’s goodness” fill them. (An illustration given by J.D. Greear). It’s a sad day when we are “forcing our hearts to pursue what they don’t want to pursue”.

“The leaders of the church had placed John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, in prison for preaching the gospel. They told him, “You can’t go on telling people that Christ’s righteousness has been credited to them in full. If they believe that, they’ll feel like they can do whatever they want”. Bunyan replied, “If people really see that Christ’s righteousness has been given to them entirely as a gift, they’ll do whatever He wants”.

               I tell you this to rebuke the fact that you believe if your reward/judgment is taken away then you have no reason not to “sin”. As it said in the book, “if people only want to pursue sin, that reveals their hearts are Spiritually dead”.

“Spiritual disciplines must be accompanied by a deep saturation in the gospel….Unfortunately, most Christians gravitate toward spiritual disciplines before they understand the gospel. The result is a cycle of pride and despair”.     

               I hope this open rebuke of the false “behavior modification gospel” that you cling to has caused you to do some examination (2 Corinthians 13:5). It is my goal to make you re-assess what you are calling the gospel, and push you toward the Scriptures. This is why we “demolish strongholds and bring all thoughts captive to Christ”. My friend, flee self-righteousness and seek first the kingdom of God, and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, and all things will be added (Matthew 6:33).

               “Believing the gospel is what released an explosive power in Jesus’ followers that caused them to live with radical recklessness and audacious faith”.

               Blessings in Christ,

               Michael Miano

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The Effect of a Fulfilled (Corporate) Gospel

               As one peruses through my recent blog posts it doesn’t take a genius to see that I have been on a “gospel kick”. Isn’t that a healthy place to be? Coming out of my debate with Sam Frost really made me sit and think about the gospel message, i.e. the hope of Israel. Thus is why you have been seeing blogs dealing with such coming from me. The awesome thing is the “one accord” happening within the “fulfilled eschatology” camp concerning these things. Ahh…the understanding of the “mystery” and its effect is so glorious. Amen?

               During my debate with Mr. Frost he attempted to discredit the “full preterist hope” by saying that we have no hope and he made mention of the following passage from Romans chapter 8:

               “For in this hope we are saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently (Romans 8:24-25)”.

               It is my position as a Full Preterist that this hope has already been fulfilled. Romans 8 is dealing with “the creation” and the hope of resurrection (which was the “hope of Israel”). As Hebrews chapter 2 very clearly shows this was dealing with Abraham’s descendants (check out verse 16). This is the context of the Scriptures, as I have pointed out “Hebrew exclusivity”, that is the theme throughout the Scriptures. Read Paul’s preaching of the gospel in Acts chapter 13. The Full Preterist community has dealt with the topic of “resurrection” time and time again, taking different routes, but it seems the “orthodox community” (as if a “united front” actually exists..) always tries a new route to persuade others contrary to the Scriptures.

               Instead I want to deal directly with this fulfilled hope issue. Sam Frost (and his buddy, Jason Bradfield) tried to say that since I, as a Full Preterist, believe that the “hope of Israel” (which is the gospel) has been fulfilled I am without hope and in a “sad position”. Well, let’s see how that LOGIC works.

               If I as a young man have the “hope” to one day own a restaurant to feed the homeless and then one day my hope is fulfilled. I own a restaurant dedicated to feeding the homeless. Has my hope been fulfilled? Yes! Am I and others still able to benefit from this “fulfilled hope”? Of course! And that is exactly what the “mystery” of God’s will was- go ahead and read through the book of Ephesians. This is what I call “living in the reality of the gospel hope”.

               See how ridiculous this claim is? Then as the debate ended, we had a “heckler” from the audience try and say that since everything including judgment has been fulfilled and we are already “living in the reality of the gospel hope” then we are free to do whatever we want- i.e., drinking excessively, smoking pot, etc…ay yi yi, I will save my in depth response to that very frightening position in my next blog- KEEP YOUR EYE OUT FOR MY BLOG TITLED: DEAR MR.CHRISTIAN

So…what does it mean to live in the reality of the gospel hope? Well, as Ephesians claims that it was the “mystery” for all to be brought into one body, through Jesus Christ, and to be under one head, even Christ. This obviously is a Spiritually realized fulfilled hope as “the glory of the nations are brought into the kingdom (Revelation 21:26)”. Through Jesus Christ, those of us who have “washed out robes” have access into the Kingdom and can eat from the “tree of life” and drink the “water of life” (which I would point out is the “knowledge of God” through the Spirit of God) and we have the opportunity to offer this to others (Revelation 22:17).

               There is a very clear BIBLICAL contrast here. What we see going on throughout the Scriptures is a “transition period” which had to do with Israel (remember this is dealing with the covenants given to Israel- see, Romans chapter 9).  Israel was under the law of sin and death- and would be freed through Jesus Christ. Ahh…the veil would be taken away (see, Isaiah chapter 25 and 2 Corinthians chapter 5). I pointed out some of these details in my Transition series of blogs.  Sadly, the modern “foreign gospel” has lost the context and made this a very personal and individual thing, as theology instructor and author, Tom Holland says,  “…although each individual Christian has shared individually in the redemptive benefits of Christ’s death, it is not historically an individual experience. The description of salvation that Paul, and I would argue the rest of the New Testament writers give, is about the salvation of God’s people, corporately”. Or as Max King said, “The central theme of Old Testament prophecy, and therefore of New Testament eschatology, was the destiny of God’s covenant Israel”.

               Philippians chapter 3 (a resurrection text) provides a great illustration of the contrast happening as the “hope of Israel”. What you see being contrasted is the Old Covenant “body of humiliation” which consisted of “legalistic righteousness” by way of fleshly circumcision, fleshly Israel, and “earthly things”. Whereas the New Covenant “glorious body” is characterized by circumcision without hands (Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11), worship in Spirit and truth (John 4), Christ’s righteousness (Philippians 3:9) and being in the “body of Christ”, which is clearly expounded upon in Ephesians chapter 2.  

               “The goal of the gospel is to produce a type of people consumed with passion for God and love for others. We certainly don’t seem to have that right”- J.D. Greear in his book, Gospel

               So in accordance with what the “hope of Israel” was and the above quote by J.D. Greear, how should this effect US?

               J.D. Greear makes an awesome statement in his book, “True love grows as a response to loveliness”. I call this “zeal empowered by knowledge”. The more we learn about what God has done, the more we love Him and His will. Sadly, religion has tried to force its adherence to submit, much like Mr. Christian I mentioned above.

               God demonstrated Himself to Israel in Exodus chapter 19. Read through the chapter and notice Israel’s response to God’s demonstration. So, when the same thing is “Spiritually discerned” in 1 Peter 2:5-9, what should be one’s response? Wasn’t Israel’s response meant to demonstrate examples as per 1 Corinthians 10:11? I think a great start to understanding how we should respond in the 21st century as Christians of a fulfilled gospel hope is to learn how Israel responded when God chose them to demonstrate His glory through. Can I get an AMEN?

As Larry Siegle so eloquently demonstrated the revealing of the “mystery” that occurred in the first century, and how the Gentiles have come to enter into covenant with God- through Jesus Christ. Just as Israel was the “body” through whom God was displaying His will at that time, the body of Christ which was the “mystery of the ages” is doing the same. Tom Hollack said it well, “The Biblical perspective is that every person is a member of a community and that membership determines his/her self-identity”.

               How can one say that there is “no hope” in a fulfilled hope when they read Revelation chapters 21-22? When I get “spiritual” and read through those chapters, I see “healing of the nations” (which would imply that those outside the gates- dogs, “sinners” and those without the robes to enter in; are still around), the gates are always open and we can offer them the water of life, utilize the “leaves of the tree” to bring healing, and offer them the “covenant covering” of Christ’s righteousness (“robes of righteousness”) to enter in the gates. The kingdom of God advances as being a marginalized, “Spiritual kingdom” in the world and not of it, a light on a hill. I would dare to say my hope is that the reality of God’s covenant with Israel being fulfilled (from natural to Spiritual) will continue to advance!

Hope of Israel- fulfilled! Bible prophecy leading up to the fulfillment of the “hope of Israel”- fulfilled! The spreading of that knowledge continued hope that is not deferred but happening daily! How about that as giving a reason for the hope that is within you? (smiles).

 “It is one thing to understand the gospel but it is quite another to experience the gospel in such a way that it fundamentally changes us and becomes the source of our identity and security. It is one thing to grasp the essence of the gospel but quite another to think out its implications for all of life. We all struggle to explore the mysteries of the gospel on a regular basis and to allow its message to influence our thinking (Gospel by J.D. Greaar)”.

A covenant kingdom embodying the gospel message of being in covenant with God through Jesus Christ- displaying His righteousness, His love, His grace, His blessings, His peace, His joy, etc….Are YOU authentically doing that? Consistently with the TRUE GOSPEL? 

               Go in peace!     -Mike Miano

Blogs of interest:

http://www.bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/eschatology/where_is_my_hope.htm

http://www.facebook.com/notes/larry-siegle/the-divine-mystery-revealed-at-last/10151338056036220

Be sure to check out Don Preston’s new series on Youtube concerning “How Shall We Live”

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Captivated by a ‘Foreign’ Gospel

               What is the Biblical gospel? That is the first question we should contemplate when we enter into thought and discussion of the Scriptures. It seems that there is a lot of “this is what the gospel is”, being thrown around. It is my and many others contention, that the gospel being heard in a vast number of “churches”, is a “juvenilized”, “personalized”, “dehistoricized”, and debiblified message. Yes, debiblified- “not defined by the Bible”. Actually, recently I read through the book, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary, and ironically the first chapter is called “The Missing Gospel”. Clearly it is not only the “Full Preterists” who are saying there is something wrong with the gospel message that has been and is being presented to the “church” at large.   

Recent scholarship has noted that in the 21st century, the information age, is allowing for better clarity on the Biblical message. For example Bryan Lewis has written an article titled, “Jesus’ Eschatology in Jewish Context”, in which he notes:

“Due to a non-historical approach to theology, most theologians throughout church history have missed the significance of this historical conundrum. It is evident in the fact that their interpretations have been largely individualistic without any Judaic context. For example, Augustine, Calvin, Beza and Luther all interpreted redemption individualistically, thus, rejecting the significance of Israel’s restoration. In fact, I would dare say that other major doctrines such as: Resurrection, as it pertains to eschatology, have also been constructed without any first-century historical consideration”.

               Many other writers and scholars have spoken upon this as well:    

“Twentieth- century scholarship has atleast one great advantage over its predessors…it has been realized that Jesus must be understood in His Jewish context”– N.T. Wright

“Where N.T. scholarship is concerned, the literature can now be read as Jewish correspondence, written by and for Jews and Gentiles concerned with the Jewish context of their faith in Jesus- the Jewish Messiah- simply put, we can now read the New Testament as a Jewish book”. – Mark Nanos

“They are Jewish documents that must be read in the cultural and religious context of pre AD 70 Judaism”– Tom Hollett

               If these things are ‘recent phenomenon’ we must ask- “In what view have we been viewing Jesus that was not the Jewish context? How much has this effected the message we preach?”.

               At my recent debate with Sam Frost, I spoke about the “one hope” (Ephesians 4:4) of the Scriptures. I presented the case that the “hope of Israel” is what was being consummated at the “end of the age” (1 Corinthians 10:11) and this as a fulfilled hope is the summation of the gospel today. Instead of preaching the “hope of Israel” as a fulfilled hope, “orthodoxy” has gone and added a futuristic “hope” that is not seen in Scripture. This is a ‘foreign gospel’.

“…yes, Christianity has taught a great deal of this in spite of the fact that it has also hampered the full meaning of the gospel”- Sam Frost

               Let’s look in Scripture. What was the gospel that Paul preached?

“For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons, theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the Law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God overall, forever praised! Amen. (Romans 9:3-5)”.

“For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy….(Romans 15:8)”.

“However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked (Acts 24:14-15)”.

“And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me. Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead (Acts 26:6-8)”.

“… I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen- that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead would proclaim light to His own people and to the Gentiles (Acts 26:22-23)”.

“For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because  of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain (Acts 28:20)”.

SO PAUL HAS THE SAME HOPE AS THESE MEN, God has promised OUR FATHERS, THE HOPE THAT….AND THIS IS WHY HE WAS ON TRIAL.

How well acquainted are you with the Old Testament? It is pretty obvious here that Paul is not adding anything to the message and is speaking in line with the ONE “hope of Israel”. It gets pretty scary when you Start to read the rebuke and exhortations in the New Testament writings about the threat of a “different gospel” or “another hope”. It is clear that from the inception of the Christian faith there was “another gospel being offered”, a quite possibly a bunch of them. (Another point that J.D. Greear makes in his book is that there are quite a few messages being given prominence over the gospel in many “traditions” of Christianity today). Read Galatians chapter 1.  

               I accuse the Church at large with being guilty of what could be called the “Corinthian error”. Reading through the book of 1 Corinthians, one can clearly see the Gentile/Israel division that was occurring, as well as Romans chapters 9-11. As my “opponent” in recent debate once said, “First Corinthians is to be worked out in terms of Israel’s hope and the Jew/Gentile tension that occurred as a result of the outworking of the old and new covenants”. When we read the context of the New Testament and the shift of covenants that was occurring (Hebrews 8:13), we can clearly see “Paul’s aim was to show that Israel had not been cast away, and neither did Gentiles have to go through the Law of Moses to get to Jesus, but rather the message of the gospel is that of uniting both Jew and Gentile as one in Christ Jesus” (Another Sam Frost quote). We can see this division happening in Acts chapters 15 and 18.  Have we created “another hope” detached from the “hope of Israel that is being expounded upon in Scripture? Uh oh…An oddly “Gentile hope”? Yikes!

               So what was this “one hope” supposed to do? If you open up your Bibles to the book of Ephesians and read the context of this “one hope” you no longer need to be blind or assume what the “mystery” of Gods’ will was. Go ahead and open up.

“And He made KNOWN to us the MYSTERY OF HIS WILL according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10)”.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the HOPE TO WHICH HE HAS CALLED YOU, the riches of His glorious INHERITANCE IN THE SAINTS….(Ephesians 1:17-18)”.

“…remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, exluded from CITIZENSHIP IN ISRAEL AND FOREIGNORS TO THE COVENANTS OF THE PROMISE, WITHOUT HOPE AND WITHOUT GOD IN THE WORLD. BUT NOW IN CHRIST JESUS, you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For He himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing in His flesh THE LAW WITH ITS COMMANDMENTS AND REGULATIONS. HIS PURPOSE WAS TO CREATE IN HIMSELF ONE NEW MAN OUT OF THE TWO, THUS MAKING PEACE, AND THUS IN THIS OWN BODY TO RECONCILE BOTH OF THEM TO GOD THROUGH THE CROSS by which He put to death their hostility. (Ephesians 2:12-16)”.

“This mystery is that through the GOSPEL the GENTILES ARE HEIRS TOGETHER WITH ISRAEL, members TOGETHER OF ONE BODY, and sharers TOGETHER IN THE PROMISE IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 3:6)”.

               My friends, I hope you have not been deceived and deluded through a “foreign gospel” that has been added to the clear and consistent Biblical hope aka “the hope of Israel”. As Max King once noted:

“It is strange indeed how frequently the distortions of the gospel’s message in later Church history (the period of the so-called “Church Fathers”) have been appealed to by interpreters of Scripture as though they are the historical framework for understanding Paul and the other writers of the New Testament. But the test for the rightness or wrongness of any interpretation of Scripture is not what the “Church Fathers” believed, nor how close to the apostolic time such a view can be traced in so-called Church history. To preserve the original purity of the gospel, it must always be read, understood, and preached in relation to the framework of history out of which it was originally preached”.

               One can only wonder, how, when, and to what extend the pure gospel hope will accomplish when preached in its purity and we forsake a “foreign gospel” that so many seem so captivated with. To the Scriptures we go! As historian Tom Hollett wrote:

 “To understand why it was so natural for Jews and God fearers to accept the teachings of the apostles we need to understand what the Jews has been waiting for”.

               Study to show thyself approved! Blessings in Christ,

   M. Miano

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The Hope of Israel (Transition Part 3)

               In my last part of this 3-part series, I want to finalize the point of the ‘transition period’ we see going on in the New Testament. As I pointed out in part 2- as we reviewed Don Preston’s book, Torah to Telos, the end was to be the “end of the Law”. 

               So…the debate with Sam Frost was centered on some of these details. It appears that Sam Frost is using the “transition period” as a factor today instead of allowing the transition period to be the time in which God was dealing with “national Israel”, otherwise known as Israel of the flesh. I believe this is where the biggest issue is.

               Jesus Christ came to confirm and fulfill the promises that were given to the Jews (Israel):

               “For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy…. (Romans 15:8-9)”.

It was to ‘Israel of the flesh’ that the ‘Old Covenant’ promises were made thus is why Paul speaks about being “anguished for them”, since the promises were made to ‘fleshly Israel’ but were being reckoned according to the Seed (Jesus Christ). Go ahead and read Romans chapter 9.

               As I seek to understand the “big picture”, which admittedly is a detailed topic, I cannot for the life of me see how this detached eschatology holds any weight. When I say “detached eschatology”, I simply mean an end times period removed from the context of God fulfilling His promises of the Messiah, judgment, and resurrection to national Israel. Yes, the promise of national Israel’s restoration would be realized SPIRITUALLY. For example, all throughout the New Testament, namely the writings of the apostle Paul, he speaks about the “the promises given to our fathers”.

               To make things more complicated you now have Dispensationalism which completely dichotomizes the promises to Israel and the Church. I noticed in my debate with Sam Frost that he wants to have ‘Israel of the flesh’ under the Law done away with at the cross and the promise of judgment and resurrection to a Spiritually reckoned Israel. But….in Acts, Romans, Galatians, etc..we have the apostle Paul still speaking about a “hope of Israel” and acknowledging ‘Israel of the flesh’. A great example would be Acts chapter 13.

               As a ‘full preterist’ the reason I dwell on AD 70 so much is because that was the judgment upon ‘Israel of the flesh’, one can’t help but be reminded of passages like Matthew chapter 23 (which “ironically, leads into Matthew 24). It was the complete doing away of their system and makes ‘judgment’ of works- make a lot more sense. Yes, as Romans 2 is speaking about. If you put yourself under the Law, when judgment comes, you will be judged according to the Law. Imagine how that looked in AD 70. There would have been a clear contrast between those who put their trust in the ‘flesh’, otherwise known as the Law, and those who put their trust in Christ.  I sure would have hated to be a Gentile who put my trust in the Law, when the Temple was destroyed. Especially since as the historian Josephus notes when physical Jerusalem and the Temple was being destroyed:

“I cannot but think that it was because God had doomed this city to destruction, as a polluted city, and was resolved to purge his sanctuary by fire, that he cut off those who clung to them with such tender affection.”

“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 of sons (Galatians 4:4-5)”.

“For you know that is was not with perishable things such as gold and silver that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake (1 Peter 1:18-20)”.

“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea…These things happen to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:1, 11)”.

Pay attention to the pronouns above. What exactly is being said to the primary person being addressed? Check it out.

               In Galatians 4:4-5, Paul specifically says that Christ was born under the Law to redeem who? Those under the Law! That we (those under the Law) might receive the full rights of sons. Interesting insight when you read Romans 8 and the manifestation of sons (ironically a ‘resurrection passage’ as well). 

               In 1 Peter 1:18-20, Paul is speaking to the “elect” about their redemption from the “empty way of life”- some have tried to make this in reference to the Gentiles, but Romans 8:1-4 give us a better understanding of the context and contrast- the law of sin and death versus the law of the Spirit.

               In 1 Corinthians 10 verses 1 and 11- (of course I would urge reading the whole chapter, the whole book of 1 Corinthians, ok fine- read the whole Bible)- who do you suppose “our forefathers” are? Ahhh…the patriarchs, the same who are mentioned in Hebrews 11 for example. So the lineage of Israel, might be a working definition. Happen to them as examples for US (not you and me) but those who were undergoing that “transition period” (although we can definitely glean insight as well).

               SEE HOW CLEAR IT IS?

You cannot read the Old Testament without noticing that Israel was the people whom God was displaying His kingdom through (For example read Exodus 19). Yesterday, I sought to answer my concern of “What did the ‘original audience’ think of when Jesus said “The kingdom of God…”. As I read through passages of the Old Testament such as Psalm chapter 22, Psalm 45:6, Psalm chapter 103, Psalm chapter 105, Psalm 145:10-13, Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 60:10-12,Ezekiel 16, and most of the book of Daniel, I noticed the “hope” of Israel was very “nationalistic”. No wonder that when Jesus met with the apostles prior to ascension and told them about the “gift the Father promises (Acts 1:4-5) they asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel”.

It is the “hope of Israel” that is being dealt with during the New Testament “transition period” of Already/Not Yet. The apostle Paul equates this “hope of Israel” with resurrection in the book of Acts. Look at Acts 24:14-15; Acts 26:6-8, 19-23; Acts 28:20-23). Looking at “resurrection passages” as would have been understood by the original audience begins to diminish the “physical body” hope that so many carry. Granted, a metaphoric speech is used, as so many other places, but contextual this is speaking about restoration. The individual mindset has forced this to be about individual bodies, which goes contrary to the corporate understanding so clearly espoused through the Old and New Testament. Here read for yourself passages such as:

Isaiah chapter 25 (which is quoted in 1 Corinthians 15)

Hosea chapter 6:1-2 7 & chapter 13

Ezekiel chapter 37

Daniel chapter 12

Philippians chapter 3

2 Corinthians chapters 3-5

               The “transition period” we see happening within the New Testament is the “hope of Israel”. In Hebrews 8:13 it says:

               “By calling this covenant “new” he has made the first one obsolete, and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear”.

               The “old covenant” being contrasted to the “new” throughout the book of Hebrews was still very present. As one can read in Galatians 4:21-31, there was a persecution being done by the carnal still present “Jerusalem” to the “free woman”- i.e., heavenly Jerusalem. It was upon this “slave woman”, the carnal Jerusalem that judgment was coming- READ MATTHEW 23. It was those who were being set free during the “transition period” that would “flee from the wrath to come”, which happened in AD 70 both literally (the flight to Pella) and Spiritually. I term this “remnant theology”, a remnant of fleshly Israel became Spiritual Israel along with the Gentiles who came to the knowledge of God through Christ thus forming ONE MAN in the body of Christ, which was the goal from the beginning (Read Ephesians chapters 1-3).

Simply put… the hope of Israel went from natural to spiritual which is exactly what 1 Corinthians 15 is speaking about! There was a natural kingdom, covenant, creation, and “heaven and earth” that was coming under judgment, thus revealing the Spiritual realities of all those aspects. What we see happening is the ‘body of humiliation’, otherwise known as the ‘veiled experience’ resurrecting into the ‘body of glory’ which is from above and free (Read Philippians chapter 3 along with 2 Corinthians chapters 3-5).

               This is the gospel! At one time, relationship with the true God (God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) was done by undergoing circumcision and through the Law- the kingdom of Israel. Through Jesus Christ, the circumcision of the heart, and the Law of Christ which was fully revealed (resurrected) at the judgment and doing away of the old! This is the “new” way of coming into covenant relationship with God. Tried, tested, and true!

More pertaining to the gospel “hope of Israel” coming soon…

               Blessings in Christ,

               Michael Miano

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