Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Review of JESUS: A THEOGRAPHY

As of the last couple weeks I finished reading, Jesus: A Theography written by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. You can order the book at this link:

http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-A-Theography-Leonard-Sweet-ebook/dp/B0078FA9OW

Being honest, I did not purchase the book. I was browsing the ‘Christian section’ at the local community library and the book stuck out. We just finished going through a series called “The FULFILLED Work of Christ” at the Blue Point Bible Church and I figured why not read a ‘big book’ about Jesus…I am glad I decided to read it.

(You can listen to all series preached at The Blue Point Bible Church by going to this link: http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630)

I loved the explanation and opening of the book in which Sweet & Viola shared insights and quotes about the importance of seeing the narrative being told through the Old and New Testaments. (A proper understanding that is vital for a true and reasonable expression of the gospel). Sadly, I have heard way too many times just this year- “Oh, that’s Old Testament”. Here are some important quotes from the book:

“One of the best ways to look at the twenty-seven books of the New Testament may be to see them as a commentary on the Old Testament. The entire Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are unified by a common narrative. And once our eyes are opened to see that narrative, everything in both testaments gel into a coherent, understandable, and amazing story”.

“The Bible didn’t emerge out of a vacuum. It is a historical but also methaphorical and narrative story of truth written within history. Thus, history matters in our interpretation of the Biblical text. At the same time, the Bible is a collection of writings that are tied together by a common theme. Therefore, the interweaving of both testaments also matters in our interpretation of the Biblical text”.

I utilized those quotes in the summing up of my sermon series. I like that Martin Luther was quoted, “Scripture is the cradle in which Christ lies” and this quote from Scott McKnight clearly shows the importance of understanding the narrative of the gospel:

“We have to become a People of the Story…we need to immerse ourselves even more into the story of Jesus. The gospel is that the story of Israel comes to its definative completeness in the story of Jesus, and this means we have to become People of the Story-that-is-complete-in-Jesus”.

Sadly, the point I made above about the failure of many Christians to understand the Old Testament, or even worse believe it to be non-essential in understanding the gospel message has led to the acceptance of a foreign gospel. I wrote a blog detailing this “foreign gospel” at the beginning of 2013

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/captivated-by-a-foreign-gospel/

As expressed in Sweet and Viola’s book:

“In many Christians’ minds, the Old and New Testaments are two seperate entities. Melito (second century) and Tertullian (third century) were the first to call the two halves of the Bible the Old Testament and the New Testament”.

As we seek to understand the Scriptures we see Jesus and the Apostles constantly pointing back to the Old.

“…but the Scriptures point to me”. , “according to the Scriptures”, “…that the Scriptures might be fulfilled”, “…in all the Scriptures”.

Simply put…the New Testament isn’t a new message. Instead, the New Testament details the continuation and end of the Old. Thank God for the rise in understanding Covenant Creation and Covenant Eschatology.

Moving on, I must say I did glean some interesting insights from the book. Speaking of the literary form and parallels seen throughout the Scriptures, Sweet and Viola brought up some good points. For example,

The relationship between Genesis chapter 1 and John chapter 1. This is dealt with in Beyond Creation Science by Tim Martin & Jeff Vaughn.
Consider that DAY ONE was without form and void, yet it also symbolizes the world that Christ was born into. DAY TWO was the separation between heaven and land, illustrating the death of Christ which sent Him back to the heavens and cut Him off from the land of the living. DAY THREE dry land appeared on the face on the earth, Christ had risen! DAY FOUR the heavenlies were created- sun, moon, stars- also referencing Christ’s ascension (see, Genesis 1:14 cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:5). DAY FIVE God created life with a consciousness, what some might call “the higher life” which typifies the “higher life” found by the indwelling of Christ through the Spirit. DAY SIX man is given the order to ‘name all things’ thus symbolizing the rule of Christ- His kingdom! DAY SEVEN the beloved sabbath represents His rest which through understanding ‘covenants’ we see His rest as the arrival of the New Heavens and New Earth (i.e., the New Covenant, see Hebrews chapter 4).

An aspect I found intriguing was the mention of the EIGHTH DAY. On DAY EIGHT, after the completed “7”, Israelite males were circumcised on the eigth day, first born sons were devoted to God on the 8th day, there were 8 souls saved on the ark- in an effort to create a ‘new earth’, and Jesus rose on the 8th day. The first day of the new week is the 8th day.

Another parallel that was followed in the book was very similar to ‘covenant creation’. Adam was told to cultivate (Hebrew- ‘Shamar’) the garden in Genesis 2:15, just as a priest would cultivate the tabernacle in Numbers 3:7-8. Also, God walked (Hebrew- ‘Hawlak”) in the midst of the garden in Genesis 3:8 and sure enough Dueteronomy 23:14 & 2 Samuel 7:6, God walked in the midst of the tabernacle. The garden faced east (Ezekiel 2:8; 3:24) and the temple faced east (Exodus 27:9-18; Numbers 2:1-34; Ezekiel 40:6). The garden was on a mountain (Ezekiel 28:13-16) and the temple was on a mountain (Exodus 15:17; 2 Chronicles 3:1; and Revelation 21:10).

Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola did a great work with this ‘Theography’. It surely inspired me to go back to the text and look at the parallel’s and read through the Scriptures with renewed interest- seeing Christ in many areas. I love that they mentioned:

“To study the Scriptures is to be a “keeper of the garden”.

The rise of Full Preterism is surely showing how we must understand the Scriptures in their proper context- not only the proper historical context, but also the interpretive context pointing to Jesus Christ. It was noted that, “Scholars have made the mistake of not identifying Jesus in terms of the Judaism of His day”. In the FP world we would refer to this as ‘audience relevance’, and N.T. Wright said it quite well:

“If we don’t make the effort to do this reconstruction, we will, without a shadow of a doubt, assume that what Jesus did and said makes the sense it might have made in some other context-perhaps our own….we shall simply squash Jesus into the little boxes of our own imaginations rather than seeing Him as He was”.

John Ratzinger has also said:

‘If you want to undersand the Scripture in the spirit in which it is written, you have to attend to the content and to the unity of the scripture as a whole”.

To finalize this blog, let it be said and understand as Watchman Nee has said:

“The Christian faith begins not with a big do but with a big done”.

The ‘healing of the nations’ is done by understanding that “The church, therefore, is the means by which Jesus Christ continues to work, to teach, and to establish His sovereign rule in the world”.

Sadly, the passing off of a false gospel time and time again has confused the role of the Church in the world today. Sweet and Viola noted that it is “the need of each generation to “wash the face of Jesus”…Each generation has ‘dirtied” Jesus’ face by various accommodations and accretions. Suceeding generations need to rediscover His beauty and let it be seen in them by “face washing”.

Amen! Reformation NOW!

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The Devil; Who? Name that Satan! (Part 4)

In the last article I breezed through all the “Gospel” references dealing with “the devil” and “the Satan”. In this article we will continue into the other New Testament writings to see if they might shed any “new” light on this topic.

Something to keep in mind is that up until this point we have yet to see any Scriptural evidence that points to “the devil” or “the Satan” as to being an angelic being, instead we see individuals and circumstances that are set up against the things of God, referred to as such.

In Acts chapter 5 we read the account of Ananias and Sapphira, who lied to the Holy Spirit by keeping back some of their property as all things were being given to the church. Simon Peter says,:

“Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back some of the price of the land”.

All we have to do is keep reading to see how “Satan filled” Ananias’ heart. In verse 4, Simon Peter continues:

“…Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart..”.

Remember the way sin works according to Joshua chapter 8 and James chapter 1? The “lusts of the flesh” is what causes Ananias to lie, not some angelic being.

In Acts 26:15-18, we read of Paul giving his testimony of his calling before KIng Agrippa. The Apostle Paul says the following:
“And I say, “Who are You, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the DOMINION OF SATAN TO GOD, and that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me”.

So in reading this we must question, what exactly is ‘the dominion of Satan’? Obviously the text alludes it to darkness. Were the gentiles in some otherworldly kingdom ruled by an evil angel? I would posit- not so! Instead, the Gentiles were in darkness or we might say ignorance regarding the truth and covenant relationship with God. As Ephesians 4:17 says, they wandered about in the futility of their minds. So…clearly it isn’t much of a “stretch” to say the ‘dominion of Satan’ is something to do with the mind in darkness. No need for an “ethereal boogey man” (to borrow a term from Jerry Bowers Jr.).

In Romans 16:20, the Apostle Paul gives the following encouraging exhortation to the church at Rome:

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet”.

Do you suppose this text means that God will literally use the members of the church at Rome to crush an angel? I sure hope not. Instead what we read is a metaphoric encouragement regarding the defeat of Satan. The word “soon” also brings a topic of timing, since this letter was written in or around AD 57- was “the Satan” crushed under the feet of the church at Rome? A simply yes or no will suffice.

The church at Corinth was known for its many issues regarding immortality, confusion, and attitudes against those deemed ‘fruitful’. In 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, the Apostle Paul is rebuking the acts of a member of the church at Corinth.

“It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his fathers wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who committed this, as though I was present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”.

As I read this I am led to the understanding that the Apostle Paul is admonishing the church at Corinth to remove this man from their midst, ‘excommunicate him’ or as Romans chapter one would put it- give him over to a depraved mind cut off from the fellowship of the Spirit, in an effort that he would repent. I don’t know a single soul that would argue that the Apostle Paul is saying this man is being given over to some angelic being….come on people!

In 1 Corinthians chapter 7 we have the Apostle Paul giving an exhortation regarding marriage. In verse 5 he says the following:
“Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control”.

It’s time for an honest look at the details of this passage. Is it some evil angelic being that tempts the man or woman to stray outside of marital fidelity? If you are trying to use that argument, it is time you take some responsibility. No need for the blame game, you must demonstrate self-control and not allow your mind to wander. That is why the Apostle Paul is giving this antidote here in 1 Corinthians chapter 7. The Satan here is the selfish carnal mind set on its own needs without the welfare of their marriage partner in mind and can clearly be warded off with communication and agreement in marriage.

We see a similar though in 2 Corinthians 2:10-11:

“But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes”.

I would urge the reading to go back to the beginning of 2 Corinthians chapter 2 and read from there. Apparently someone had committed an offense causing the Apostle Paul sorrow and grieving the church. It seems to me this could be the person we learned about in 1 Corinthians (him who the Apostle had said to deliver over to Satan). It seems here that “the Satan” is a divisive force. The Apostle Paul is making sure it is clear that just as they at the church in Corinth have forgiven this person so has he, so “the adversary” would not have opportunity to take advantage and cause division. Could this adversary be the judizers who are just waiting to wreak havoc on the church? or maybe this adversary is the mind of the man that is not properly restored will set him at odds with the church and the faith? I must say, I surely don’t read an evil angelic being into this text at all and if you do it is exactly that…you reading it into the text.

So what are the schemes of ‘the Satan’? I would say lies, deceit, division, ‘works of the flesh’, and anything that goes against the health and growth of the things of God 9 (i.e.- the kingdom of God versus the dominion of Satan (the mind set against the things of God, think of Simon Peter being called Satan).

Now we will discuss a passage that seems to cause confusion for many. In 2 Corinthians 11:10- 15:

“As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. Why because I do not love you? God knows I do. But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light”.

It is important to clarify that the word for angel in Hebrew is ‘mal’ak’ simply meaning messenger and the same for the Greek ‘angelos’. It is our presuppositions about the term that turn it into some Spiritual entity floating in the clouds. This text in speaking about “the Satan” is simply reminder the audience that just as there are those claiming to be apostles who are not, “the Satan” disguises himself as a messenger of light. The following website does a great deal in working with this passage:

http://imaginenosatan.com/Volume%204/4-52.html

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, the Apostle Paul speaks about a “weakness” that he suffers from in effort to keep him from exaulting himself. He calls this “weakness” a “thorn in the flesh” and a “messenger of Satan”. Again, it is important to recognize that “the Satan” simply means “the adversary”. It remains unknown what exactly this “weakness” was…but I see no point in thinking this reference has anything to do with some ethereal being tormenting the Apostle Paul.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18, the Apostle Paul is explaining to those at the church in Thessalonica that while he is not with them for a short while, he is with them in Spirit. In verse 18, the apostle blames ‘the Satan’ for hindering him coming to Thessalonica. Do you suppose it was some evil angelic being or was it the Judizers or the fact that He was being held in prison that kept him from going to visit the Thessalonians?

In 2 Thessalonians 2:7-9, the Apostle Paul is telling the church at Thessalonica that “the lawless one” is soon to be revealed and his coming is in “accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders”. This is speaking about rulers and leaders within the Jewish and Roman governments who continued to decieve and persecute those who desired to follow the truth, Jesus Christ.

In a similar attitude of 1 Corinthians chapter 5, in 1 Timothy 1:20, the Apostle Paul is speaking in reference to the false teachers, Hymenaus and Alexander, whom he decided to hand over to “the Satan” so they will be taught not to blaspheme. Clearly, just as in 1 Corinthians chapter 5, the Apostle Paul is speaking in reference to excommunicating them.

In 1 Timothy 5:14-15, the Apostle Paul is giving instruction for younger widows to get married, bear children, and to live in the customs of the day not to give the ‘adversary’ of the faith being expressed in and through the Messiah. As the apostle continues his admonishment he says, “for some have turned aside to follow Satan”. I don’t believe that any of the widows turned aside to follow some angelic being called “the Adversary”. Why must this be some ethereal other world that worship of it hardly found at all? Instead I recommend considering returning to the old system, Old Covenant, as a view in that time referred to as ‘following Satan’.

Before we begin our last references to the term “Satan” in the book of Revelation, might I just make the point that this book is written in such a symbolic, apocalyptic way that to read numerical values and spiritual designations is a bit ridiculous. Instead, we must arrive at the book of Revelation with a rudimentary understanding of the metaphors and so forth that are used in the writing (for example, how has “the Satan” been described up to this point? The metaphoric usage of ‘thousand’ in Scripture, Who is this “Babylon”? etc…).

In Revelation 2:9, the Apostle John tells the church at Smyrna that He knows of their tribulations and those who “say they are Jews, but are a synagogue of Satan”. This reminds me of 1 Timothy 5:14-15 wherein the Apostle Paul had spoke of those who were following Satan. I would posit that this synagogue was not understood nor being depicted in regards to some angelic being called “Satan”, instead the worship of false religion that was being done by the religious Jews who had rejected the Messiah (Jesus speaks about this in John chapter 8). (We also read of the “synagogue of Satan” in Revelation 3:9).

I find it especially interesting that in his exhortation to the church at Pergamum in Revelation 2:13 it is stated that wherever the church at Pergamum was- it had reference to “Satan’s throne”. A good historically reading would show that Pergamum was a center of false worship and therefore was truly the hub for adversity to the truth of God. Here is a link to find some information pertaining to this:

http://www.followtherabbi.com/journey/footsteps/where-satan-lives/

I’m more than pretty sure that this passage is not speaking in reference to some lone evil angel named “the Satan” whose throne was in Pergamum, nor where this angelic being lived. See how ridiculous this can get?

As we go into Revelation 2:24, we read about those in Thyatira who did not hold to the teaching of Jezebel as those “who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them”. It seems these “deep things’ were sexual immortality and eating things sacriced to idols. No need for this to mean the hosts of false spirituality being taught by so many people who “super-spiritualize” these things.

In Revelation 12:9 we read:

“And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan who decieves the whole world: he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him”.

I remember hearing about this as some war that happened in heaven before the world began. I admit this makes for good movies and imagination, but as I reminded you before we entered the book of Revelation this is highly symbolic and metaphorical. As I will be concluded this 4 part blog on the references to “the Satan”, I believe I have shown that “the Satan” is not some ethereal otherworld angelic being that is taunting mankind. Also, the devil is not either since the terms are used synonymously.

Whatever “the Satan” and “the devil’ reference we know at the end of Revelation we read that Satan was bound, then released…and later to be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20;2, 7).

Well….that about sums up all the references to “the Satan” throughout the Bible. I have utilized intellectual honesty in regards to my research and truly sought out the matter. I still have no idea where one can come up with “the Satan” as an individual angelic being bent on evil. Sorry folks, the text just does not show it.

More to come…

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Michael Miano

***Please email any thoughts and/or questions to Christianitygonewild@yahoo.com

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