Notebook Review: Resurrection of the Dead

As I have studied through the “resurrection of the dead” I have noted the words of Mr. R.C. Sproul, a well-known Bible teacher;

“There is much confusion regarding the “literal” sense of Scripture…To interpret the Bible “literally” in the classic sense requires that we learn to recognize in Scripture different genres of literature. Poetry is to be interpreted as poetry, and didactic passages are to be interpreted according to the grammar of the didactic. Historical narrative must not be treated as parable, nor parable as strict historical narrative. Much of Bible prophecy is cast in an apocalyptic genre that employs graphic imaginative language and often mixes elements of common historical narrative with the figurative language.”

Here are a couple links to resources I have written and compiled on the doctrine of the “resurrection of the dead”.

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/1-corinthians-15-summaries/

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/the-hope-of-israel-transition-part-3/

http://www.academia.edu/26905171/One_New_Man_Sermon_Series_Summary

https://powerofpreterism.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/an-introduction-to-and-praise-of-the-corporate-body-view-cbv/

As I reviewed my notebook notes on the “resurrection of the dead”, it revealed the following studies:

1/4/16 – Defining the Resurrection Hope: William Bell

Utilizing this study from Mr. William Bell, which I unfortunately cannot seem to find a link for, will allow for us to see “cuts in the beautiful diamonds of hope”, as well as understand what some “powers of the age to come” are.

In Hebrews 6:1-9  – Resurrection of the dead is among the “elementary teachings”  that the Hebrew Christians were encouraged to  move beyond. This notes the simplistic understanding they would have had through the Law and the Prophets (cf. Acts 24:

In Hebrews chapter 3, the writing contrasts:

The “house of Moses” with the “house of Christ”.

“But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory (Hebrews 3:6)”.  The resurrection of the dead is the “one hope” of Ephesians 4:4, which belonged to the Hebrews (Hebrews 4:6).

Here is a listing of “several cuts of this one hope”:

Heb. 2:14 – release from the power of death and Satan
Heb. 2:14 – release from bondage
Heb. 3:6 – move from servant’s house to Son’s
Heb.  4:1 – entering His rest
Heb. 6:1; 11:40 – maturity/ perfection
Heb. 2:5; 6:5 – age to come
Heb. 6:9; 9:28 – salvation
Heb. 6:19 – entrance into the veil
Heb. 7:12, 23-24; 8:1 – new priesthood
Heb. 8:6, 13 – better covenant
Heb. 8:2 – true tabernacle
Heb. 9:8 – access to Most Holy Place
Heb. 9:12 – eternal redemption
Heb. 9:15 – eternal inheritance
Heb. 10:35 – based on faith and has great reward
Heb. 10:29 – preservation of the soul
Heb. 11:10, 13, 16; 12:22; 13:14 – Heavenly City
Heb. 12:24 – Jesus’ sprinkled blood
Heb. 12:28 – a kingdom that cannot be shaken
Heb. 13:10 – a new altar
Heb. 13:35 – better resurrection

Here are some links to more beneficial studies from Mr. William Bell:

https://www.preteristarchive.com/Hyper/0000_bell_resurrection.html

http://donkpreston.com/the-resurrection-the-kingdom-and-1-corinthians-15-william-bell-part-1/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qz3ml0sgUw8

https://www.allthingsfulfilled.com/a-response-to-kurt-simmons-exposition-of-2-corinthians-5/

Also, it is always good to take a look at teachings you may disagree with you challenge your perspective. Therefore, here are some teachings on the IBV of the resurrection held by Mr. Ed Stevens:

http://www.preterist.org/our-body-collec-individ/

http://lastdayspast.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Change_of_Living-Ed-Stevens.pdf

 

Beginning in December 2016, I began to loosely follow some of Sam Frost’s YouTube videos on “resurrection”.  While much of his videos were him explaining how much he understands Preterism and making claims that Full Preterists to an injustice to Scripture, he did make some good points. Sam highlighted that the resurrection of the dead was the “hope of Israel” and he utilized Romans chapter 5 to out that resurrection is contrasting the death of Adam. I finished watching quite a few of Sam’s videos and left thinking – so when we physically die we still suffer the curse of Adam (according to Sam’s position). Also, the questions I came away asking were: In Scripture what is resurrection of the dead compared to? When does the resurrection of the dead happen according to Scripture? And what are the difference in views? Here is a link to begin watching his videos, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrRhp6iDyHc

 

 

 

 

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Intro to Covenant Creation

When we open up the Book of Genesis we are immediately brought into the beginning (literally the Hebrew word which Genesis comes from bereshit means “beginning”). The important and common question to ask is, “the beginning of what?”. Unfortunately, many people within Church History and often today pick up the Book of Genesis and assume it is detailing the beginning of the physical cosmos. Gaining an understanding of “Covenant Creation” allows for a more true and reasonable apologetic in regards to the creation account.

A familiarity with the Biblical narrative is required to understand the details in the Bible, or in the very least establishing historical context. It is important to understand how terms like “heaven and earth” are used in the whole of Scripture, how six day Temple Texts were used in the Ancient Near East, and how God worked corporately and coventally with Israel, the progeny of Adam, in order to understand the focus of the beginning. The failure of many to “study to show themselves approved” is evident within the Church as many have proposed all sorts of wild notions regarding the purpose and content of Genesis. This leads Genesis discussions rather than understanding the purpose of the text to establish the One True God’s reign in and among His people. That would have been what was most important to establish clarity about, rather than the specifics of how old the planet is or the physical composition/ creation of man.

In more recent years, understanding these details in regards to the Book of Genesis has come to be known as “Covenant Creation”. This view takes into account the framework of the Biblical narrative as the One True God covenanting among His Creation. As authors Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn note in their seminal work, Beyond Creation Science, “Genesis creation is a symbolic statement, involving real people in real history, describing the “beginning” of God’s covenant world of friendship and relationship with His people”.

 

MORE RESOURCES FROM PASTOR MICHAEL MIANO:

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/the-god-of-abraham-isaac-and-jacob-its-a-covenant-thing/

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/authentic-spirituality-through-the-lens-of-genesis-chapter-1/

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/genesis-1-detailed/

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/man-of-dust-genesis-ancient-near-eastern-origins/

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/the-creation-question-that-needs-to-be-answered-review-of-john-waltons-book-the-lost-world-of-genesis-one/

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“Human Fascination With Evil”

I recently picked up a book that looked interesting at a local thrift store. The book is titled “ANTICHRIST: TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF HUMAN FASCINATION WITH EVIL” written by Bernard McGinn. This might be the one of the best texts I have read that explains the various understandings of the devil, demons, antichrist, evil, and wickedness that I have ever read. McGinn writes in a textbook manner and offers so much historical data to consider and review. It’s safe to say I was shocked at how much I enjoyed this book I bought for less than $3 at the thrift store.

I have been working steadily on Wicked. (which is expected to be released at the end of May 2017). As I come to chapters in regards to these wicked things (Satan, evil, demons, etc) I have been reviewing some books I own on the topics. I was not expecting such a fascinating book as ANTICHRIST. Now, I want to say something about fascination and the topic of evil. Unfortunately our “total depravity” (to borrow a doctrinal term from reformer John Calvin) shows all to often when we are so quick to jump into topics about wicked things, and offer up our opinions and thoughts (leaning upon our own misunderstandings and offering more confusion to the mix). And boy oh boy are we quick to do so.

Last week I post a status on my Facebook page and it brought over 87 mostly aggressive comments within 2 hours. Yikes! Arguments went on and on. Some almost calling each other Satan and evil things. Wickedness ran rampant.

I’d like to say that my fascination with the topic is a bit different and prayerfully I will detail that as I share some of the points from ANTICHRIST with you in this blog. Ultimately of course, I would encourage you to keep an eye out for my upcoming book, Wicked. My fascination is more from the standpoint of a student of Scripture and a follower of Jesus Christ. I desire to know the depths of what the Scriptures are revealing. In doing so, I often times bump heads with the Establishment (the traditional Fundamentalist crowd within the Church). An honest study through history show this. Reading and studying through the chaos revealed through Church history on the topic is outrageous, especially detailed so fully in Bernard McGinn. This is or should be a textbook on the topic.

“…I write in the conviction that the Antichrist has already come – That is, the most important message of the Antichrist legend in Western history is what it has to tell us about our past, and perhaps our present attitudes toward evil”. – McGinn 

McGinn begins by detailing Isaac Newton’s distaste for those who were always searching for the Antichrist, as well as explaining that much of what people believe today as wickedness show influence of 2nd Temple Judaism/ Hellenism (ultimately confusion that ran rampant among national Israel (God’s vessel up until the time of Christ) from the 3rd century BC to AD 70. “Ultimately that and more led to the coming of the Lord in that generation”. I surely could appreciate even though we may disagree on many specifics – end times taken “seriously but not literally”.

There is so much that can be said about how McGinn shared all these details on the Antichrist. I loved the format of the book! McGinn highlighted the views that were noted (the resources he looked into could be compiled as an encyclopedia) throughout various points of history (which I will share near the end of this blog). Also, McGinn really piqued my interest in reading quite a few resources:

  • 2nd Temple literature/ Apocalypses, Enoch, etc)
  • The Maccabees and some highlights in Hellenism (1 Macc: 1:11-16; 2 Macc 4:7-18)
  • Sibylline Oracles and the Book of Jubilees

In talking about the ancient world McGinn rightly noted the importances of myths:
“Myths serve as archetypal narratives that exercise a special part of the human imagination” to which I would challenge with a proper understanding of the “prophetic imagination” as seemingly understood by the early Hebrews. McGinn notes, “Myth explains, not in an intellectual way by giving an argument, but rather by presenting an accounts of origin or essential structure that mediates meaning to the present”. Essentially myths were natural man’s way of “making sense of reality”.

McGinn really helps provide for an appreciate in regards to history. The style in which he writes captures what he refers to  as the “Matrix of Early Christianity” –
– Positive memories of Israel’s great kings
– Remembrance of oppressors and fear of worst in future
– The Messiah as an apocalyptic hope

The best way I can show you some of the great details McGinn brought forth is to use his historical outline/ sections and share my notes.

300 BC – AD 50 : A time marked by Jewish apocalyptic visions, 2nd Temple period, and the Qumran community.  A time filled with blasphemy against the One True God, persecution of His Faithful, and false religious leadership (hypocrites). We also see how these historic times mark out the internal conflict between good and evil, or what we might call the “psychological dualism of the struggle of the spirits of good and evil within the human heart”.

AD 50 – 100: A time of the 2nd Adam and His opposite. McGinn highlights that “After the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70, both Jews and Christians had to face a new religious situation, one that profoundly affected their respective beliefs and the increasing divergent roads these religious traditions would take”.

The teachings of Jesus Christ surely took precedent during this time. In literature and preaching we read of the “Man of Sin”, “the Beast”, Satan/ devil, the evil trinity, and the abomination of desolation. I love the following quote from Gerhard Eberling because it demonstrates that the Christian hope is based upon a reorienting all that was being hoped for through the lens of Jesus:

“What stands at the beginning of Christian theology is the apocalyptic modified by faith in Jesus”. 

AD 100 – 500: Throughout this time period we see the Antichrist develop as Christianity itself is developing. We read of “provocative new twists” from Church Fathers through this time of “persecution, heresy, and self-deceit”. Unfortunately, confusion runs rampant during this time. Surely applying the “end times” and the “Deceiver of the world” to a time past the events of the Roman-Jewish war is a misplace concept and bred much confusion in the Church. Some writings that stand out from this period which I seek to read and review in the near future are:

– The Apocalypse of Peter
– The Apocalypse of Elijah – which has been said to be “one of the most complete, but also obscure accounts of the Antichrist in patristic literature”.
– The writings of Hippolytus, presbyter in Rome from AD 200-235A
– The Catechetical Lectures by Cyril (AD 315-386) – these were instructions given to converts as the Roman world became increasingly Christian.

Prior to the Middle Ages it could be said, “….in the West at least, the apocalyptic theology advanced by Augustine and Tyconius emphasized a moral and internal reading of the Antichrist symbolism…”

AD 500 – 1100: The Middle Ages were characterized by various and different enemies being labeled “antichrist” by the Church. The confusion continued into what I would refer to as “scattered thoughts lacking consistency and context”. For example, a monk named Adso wrote some apocalyptic thoughts in which he detailed a 40 day period (or completeness) wherein the Elect would not be temped by the Antichrist due to offer up penance (“…the Lord will grand the Elect 40 days to do penance because they were led astray by the Antichrist”).  During this time we see the rise of the “Irish Antichrist tradition” (a writing that stands out is “The 15 Signs Before Doomsday”). Also, Islam saw a rise during this time, and the development of the Dajjal (Antichrist) which resulted from the Hadiths.

AD 1100-1200: In this period of time we saw the effects of the Great Schism in the Church between the East and the West. The formation of the Ordinary Gloss which is “a great Biblical textbook created in the nascent universities of the 1200’s”, which served as commentary during that time and further. We also read of the Moralized Bibles, or “medieval picture Bibles”  published during this period which largely included imagery of the Antichrist in different perspectives. This period of time provided interest in reading through the works of Honorious, namely his commentary on the Song of Songs.

AD 1200 – 1335: A time of Church issues and Papal name calling.

AD 1335 – 1500: Surely this period of time was seen as the eve of the Reformation. The term “Antichrist” during this time surely came to be a “symbolic representation of ultimate human evil”. We see the late medieval pessimism during this time with calculations of the coming Antichrist in almost every year (prophesies of 1346, 1347, 1348, 1360, 1365, 1375, 1387, 1396, 1400, 1418, —> and these are just some of the dates listed up until 1450 (that surely should cause us to pause and reconsider dating details that are so often abused in regards to Bible prophecy).

The rise of reformers during this time period is very evident and mark out some of the contemporary mindsets as well. John Wycliffe (1337) labeled the Papacy as Antichrist and John Huss (1372-1415) was apparently killed for referring to the Pope as Antichrist.

AD 1500 – 1660: During this reformation time we surely read of the cries of Reformation regarding the Antichrist Papacy. “Antichrist was definitely seen as a legendary projection of human evil forming the reverse image of the Christian Redeemer”. The splinter groups formed after the Reformation surely caused differences in regards to how evil was viewed, aways seeming to be defined in more contemporary styles. During this time we read of reformers such as Englishman John Jewell, Nicholas von Amsdorf, John Calvin, and Melchior Hoffman. Hoffman was an Anabaptist who prophesied of the end and the coming Antichrist in 1553. Von Amsdorf in 1554 wrote “Five Principles & Certain Signs Before the End”.

We also read of the “counter-reforms” being done in and through the Catholic Church during this time. We see the rise of various Jesuit understandings (some which pointed backwards in history as the fulfillment of prophecy rathering than regarding the Pope as Antichrist). It’s been said, “Catholic preaching and teaching on the Antichrist down to the latter half of the 17th century was partly a repetition of patterns inherited from early era’s and partly a reaction to the Protestant challenge”.

AD 1660 – 1900’s: McGinn properly noted, “While a number of important thinkers continued to speculate about the Antichrist, in many ways the Last Enemy became the hobby of cranks after 1660”. More defining of things based on contemporary situations led to more and more confusion. The early Puritans who had come to America viewed England as the Antichrist, in France due to the French Revolution there was a lot of throwing around of who was the “Antichrist”, and so we see the early confusion and void of clarity that allowed for a renewed interest in Milleniarism and ultimate Dispensationalism. These two doctrinal views has crept in and caused so many chaotic and confusing interpretations into the Christian Church.

That is where we are at now. McGinn’s eloquently detailed where all the confusion has led us: “…the increasing vagueness of the term Antichrist (as seen through the history of the Christian Church) has reached the point where universal invective overwhelmed effective application”. 

As I plan to continue to sift through and study these details further I am glad that I sit on the side of careful historical and context review. A Preterist. Every generation thinks excitedly that they are the “terminal generation” as shown through this lengthy review. Surely, I would apply much of the details found in prophecy to the generations it was prophesied to as well as ultimately the generation to whom Christ came and revealed things to. The Biblical Antichrist was revealed in that generation.

However, our understanding of Antichrist, or better said our understanding of evil, need not, must not, stop there. McGinn wrote and I couldn’t agree more, “…Biblical texts, such as the 1st epistle of John, and other major Christian thinkers – Origen, Augustine, Gregory the Great, William Langland – use Antichrist motifs – and insist that the true meaning of antichrist is to be found within, that is, the spirit that resists Christ”.  I regularly praise God that as I “study to show myself approved (2 Tim. 2:15)” and go through details for my writing of Wicked. I see the application of various concepts in Scripture.

In my upcoming release Wicked. I detail these “conceptual realities”, which the philosopher Paul Rocoeur in his seminal work, The Symbolism of Evil, explained very well when he noted how contemporary reflection on the symbols found in the ancient myths of the origin of evil could “still give rise to thought”; that is, they provide an “occasion for thought, something to think about”. Surely looking through history in regards to all the characters of evil we have pinpointed we have a lot to ponder. The Qumran community in the first century spoke of the “spirit of perversity” (which we all have the capability to live in and under) as the ultimate evil. In a similar vein, detailing “Who is the Antichrist?”, Church Fathers like Augustine noted “Everyone must question his conscience whether he be such”. In closing, let’s catch this concept as our definite understanding of the Antichrist:

“There you have the Antichrist – everyone that denies Christ by his works”. – Augustine

Some more contemporary resources I plan to take a look at (noting here for my and your benefit):

  • The Antichrist by Vincent P. Micelli
  • Catholic Prophecy: The Coming Chastisement by Ives DuPont
  • The Devil (4 part series) by Jeffrey Burton Russel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Authentic Spirituality: Through the Lens of Genesis Chapter 1

 

When we open up our Bibles to the Book of Genesis we are immediately introduced to the the Ancient Near Eastern culture (*think – ancient Sumer, Mespotamia, etc). By examining Genesis chapter 1 we can gain an understanding of “spirituality” and ultimately reinforce our spirituality which is established in and through Jesus Christ as “authentic”. Take a minute to read through Genesis 1:1-31.

What you just read is the Genesis creation account. The phrase “formless and void” which can be found in Genesis 1:2 highlights that the creation at that time (“earth”) was comparable to a dry, useless desert wilderness with no possibility to sustain life (as expressed in the Hebrew -“tohu wabohu”). As we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, the darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters (Genesis 1:1-2)”. Unfortunately, many have failed to note that “heaven and earth” is a covenant phrase used all throughout the Scriptures to refer to God’s old covenant people (Israel), as well as their covenant with Him (the Temple was referred to as “heaven and earth”) in contrast to earth simply being all of creation. This unfortunate failure to understand the covenantal aspect of these details has led to a distorted understanding regarding what is happening at the beginning and throughout the Bible. Far too many people think the phrase “heaven and earth” means the sky and the terra firma we are standing upon and that the beginning of the Bible is trying to explain the beginning of that. That is simply not the case.

(“Heaven and Earth” as used through the Old Testament cf. Leviticus 26:14-20; Deuteronomy 30:19; Deuteronomy 31:30-32:1; Isaiah 1:1-2; Isaiah 13:1-13; Isaiah 24:3-6, 19-20; Isaiah 34:3-5; Isaiah 51:16; Jeremiah 4:28)

As we “study to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)”, we should be gaining a narrative understanding of what is being detailed from Genesis to Revelation. In step with gaining a narrative understanding, we should we learning the historical context and scene of the details we are reading, and picking up a familiarity with words and phrases that are used. Doing so will enable for a more beautiful, worthwhile, and wholesome understanding of God’s truth.

In Genesis 1:2, as mentioned above, there are quite a few covenant features. For example, “darkness” hints at confusion all throughout the Scriptures, and the “deep” or the waters, symbolize the mass of people outside of the covenant people (“Heaven and Earth”) all throughout the Old Testament. Also, the mention of the Spirit of God hovering over the chaotic waters should provoke the image of God initiating something within His creation. The big question is – what was God doing?

Again I mention that it is truly lamentable how far off people have gone in trying to gain understanding of what is happening in Genesis chapter 1. If confusion takes place at the start of reading the Bible, we end up going through the rest of the Biblical details with a bit of confusion. This speaks to to the rather weak and divided nature of Christ’s Church today, summarized by a failure to apply humility and understanding regarding the details of Scripture, and the various historical contexts through which they were revealed.

If and when we begin to understand Genesis as an ANE text and take in to account the historical context, we open up the door to gaining a radical (rooted) spirituality. Instead of Genesis 1 speaking to our contemporary concerns about God’s creation of the physical things we see – heaven and earth – the historical context speaks to the rampant idolatry and confusion that characterized the ancient near east. Surely God has created all things (cf. Colossians 1:16), however Genesis 1 is understood to be an ancient near eastern “temple text” aimed at establishing the sovereignty of the One True God covenanting with His creation. He establishes the “heaven and earth” (His covenant people) in a formless and void society all with the intention to begin a work (“hovering”) among the mass of people. In a more contemporary fashion we might say, “He was bringing light to darkness”, or clarity to confusion, which is exactly the first creative act highlighted in Genesis 1:3. Genesis chapter 1 is all about God establishing His covenant people to have an affect on the nations around them (“the waters”). This truth of how God worked with and among His people is conveyed through Moses’s song in Deuteronomy chapter 32.

“He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. The Lord alone guided him, and their was no foreign god with him. (Duet. 32:10-12)”.

Remember the “big question” I mentioned above? What was God doing?

In order to make it explicitly clear that God was bringing forth judgment upon an idolatrous culture in Genesis chapter 1, and ultimately declaring His sovereignty and covenant among His people (“heaven and earth”) through what is known as“temple text”, I want to take us to a passage that uses similar language. Let’s read Jeremiah 4:22-28.

“For my people are foolish. They know me not; they are stupid children and have no understanding. They are shrewd to do evil, but to do good they do not know. I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking, and the hills moved to and fro. I looked and behold, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled. I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were pulled down before the Lord, before His fierce anger. For thus says the Lord, “The whole land shall be a desolation, yet I will not execute a complete destruction. For this the earth shall mourn and the heavens above be dark, because I have spoken, I have purposed, and will not change my mind, nor will I turn from it”.

Exactly what we read in Genesis chapter 1, right? The prophet Jeremiah is prophesying to Israel the coming judgment at the hands of Babylonians which occurred in 586 BC. Jeremiah is using powerful imagery to declare this judgment showing that God’s people, as well as the surrounding nations would be confounded. The prophets continually bring to the forefront the reality that all of God’s creation yearn for His glory to be manifest – the creation and His creation. However, that glory is revealed through His creation, and due to carnality His creation seemingly stumbles again and again. Jeremiah uses rather powerful language to convey what we might call a “conceptual reality”.

A conceptual reality is the formation of thoughts pertaining to the natural environment that are understood as more real, more defining than the reality itself. This is in contrast to an abstract reality which is understood as otherworldly, and sadly enough this is how most people view things of the Spirit. Not so much the Hebrew people though. Many people view spirituality and what is often referred to as the “spirit realm” as mysterious and far away, where as the Hebrew people understood God as near and present to them, being understood through their concept of covenant. Instead of spirituality being understood as an otherworldly phenomenon that wooden images could only mysteriously convey, the Hebrew people saw themselves as the image of God to the nations through their elevated understanding (i.e. their understanding of Spirituality) of His covenanting among them.

It is exactly that, Israel being the image of God to the nations, which is a conceptual reality finding its beginning in Genesis chapter 1 and flowing through the rest of the Scriptures. God creating “heaven and earth” and “hovering over the surface of the deep” was illustrated through the calling out of Adam from the “formless and void” creation of Genesis 1:1 – all a picture of God establishing covenant among His people (Adam being the progenitor of that covenant). The spirituality (or understanding that comes from outside of man, beyond, elevated above) that flows from that “conceptual reality” is that Israel was to obey Torah knowing the sovereignty of the One True God who was manifest in, through, and among them.

Possessing an “authentic spirituality” requires a proper understanding of spirituality that was manifest from God covenanting among His people, as well as an understanding of what authentic means. The carnal manifestations of man’s logic and reasoning, ultimately leaning upon his own misunderstanding is characterizes by confusion and chaos, rather than a clear and clarifying (dare I say elevated/ spiritual) reality which was offered by God through covenant – first through His natural covenant with Israel (Torah) and today through the eternal spiritual covenant established in and through Jesus Christ.

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining Spiritual thoughts with Spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised… For who has known the mind of the Lord, that we will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12-14,16)”.

In this blog I have offered an honest look at the historical context and details of Genesis chapter 1 in an effort to establish an “authentic spirituality”. We noted that instead of detailing the creation of physical things, we know Genesis 1 to be a ANE temple text highlighting the One True God covenanting with His creation (which would later become Israel). Understanding that allows for an “authentic spirituality” (those who have eyes to see and ears to hear) in regards to the conceptual reality being highlighted in Genesis chapter 1.

What many are defining and trusting as “spiritual” is actually a stronghold delivering them right into the hand of the enemy (the carnal mind – The Satan). What many understand the details of Genesis 1 to be about is also leading many into the hands of the enemy through skepticism, doubt, and confusion. The work of the Satan is the be an adversary to God’s truth and lead us to lean upon our own misunderstandings. Christ was manifest to destroy the devil (1 John 3:8), to give the Church victory over him,(“crush him under their feet” cf. Romans 16:20), and allow for the true knowledge of God to be established among His people (cf. Revelation 21:22-26). Let’s continue to walk as children of the Light offering clarity where there is confusion.

  • I am looking to publish a new book, Wicked, in March 2017. Wicked will deal with much of what was mentioned in this blog in regards to the Biblical narrative, covenant, spirituality, and more.

To God be the Glory!

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Reviewing 2016 & Peering Into 2017

It is a rather unfortunate thing that the current trend in our contemporary society is to forsake making New Year’s resolutions. I see this leading to nothing other than utter disappointment and dissatisfaction as many fail to properly examine themselves, their lives, and their goals when they are afforded the opportunity.

Winston Churchill, the British statesmen and Nobel Peace Prize winner, once stated that “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see”. Every year I offer up a review of the past year in an effort to challenge and stimulate my perspectives, goals, and ideas for the future. I pray that through my honest examination and expression that I would inspire you to do a review of the past year and prayerfully develop some resolutions for the year to come.

The word “authentic” has been reverberating through my mind and heart for the last couple months. Properly defined, the word authentic means to have a traceable place of origin, to be genuine. As I have been reviewing the past year and peering into 2017, authentic seems to be the perfect word to sum up my resolutions in life, as well as ministry.

In review of the past year’s notes, I found the following quote:

Allow His Word to be understood in the text, and then Spiritually written on your heart”.

That quote illustrates the “authenticity” I am speaking about. As a pastor whose life mission is to help others know and understand how to live an “eternally fulfilling and satisfying life”, I make it my business to help others genuinely understand the details of the Gospel as expressed through the Scriptures in their historical context. Because then, and only then, will the wisdom that is from beyond man (spiritual), be written on your heart. Also, this authenticity is pointing me toward a more aggressive, bold posture in the new year.

My favorite Bible verse is 1 Timothy 1:5 and surely having love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith all of which demand authenticity. Two other Bible texts that seem to be motivating me this season are Proverbs 25:11 and 1 Timothy chapter 6. The Proverbial advice “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in the right circumstances” highlights the need for us to authentically explain and detail the Gospel in a manner that is like “apples of gold is settings of silver”. This requires a genuine interesting and listening to the concerns of others and presenting truth from His Word. The Apostle Paul’s instruction to his spiritual son Timothy highlights that many fail to know, and/or abuse the doctrines of Godliness by using them for the wrong reasons. The Apostle Paul says, “But flee from these things you man of God, pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11)”. Also, as a pastor, I will seek to walk worthy of these details in my calling as outlined in Titus 1:9, therefore requiring an authentic boldness – what I have usually referred to as “zeal empowered by knowledge” (cf. Romans chapter 10)”.

Allow me to offer up a quick review of ministry in 2016:

BLUE POINT BIBLE CHURCH

Early in 2016 we made it the goal at BPBC to “Walk Worthy: Bearing Fruit”, ultimately with the desire to find the Church at work in the world with “purpose and strategy”. As I reviewed the work of our church this year, and the sermons that were preached, it becomes evident that 2016 was a year of establishing a foundation regarding our identity in Christ and in the world.

We went through a couple of “sermon series” this year at BPBC which were:

Life Together” which focused on the many relationships we have as Christians and how we are called to live in those relationships; “One New Man” which brought us through the “body” texts of Scripture and showed that we the Body of Christ are the One New Man that was hoped for throughout the Old Testament; #BeingCHRISTIAN highlighted the many “Spiritual To Do Lists” found throughout the Scriptures and how we need to see those details in our lives – you can find our “check lists” at the following link:

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/beingchristian-exams-parts-i-ii/

We concluded the year with a praise & worship series called “Yadah…Yadah…Yadah.Shachah”, which aimed to focus us on submitting to and being in awe of Him in all that we do, especially allowing this to by highlighted in our “worship service”. And thus our Christmas service highlighted the “mystical realities” we have in Christ and how we need to grow more fully in being “full of grace and full of truth”.

In the midst of such sermon series we went through some other resources learning how to Wiser Together, Chase the Lion with Mark Batterson, and more…all seemingly focusing us on our identity in Christ. Prayerfully as we end the year and move into a new year, we have begun to see ourselves as the fulfillment of what was longed for through the Old Testament, we are a nation, a reality set up in righteousness to convey the truth of God to the world. That’s the role of the Church as per Ephesians 3:15.

On April 11th, I woke up thinking through all that we offer at BPBC and summarized like this:

The local church provides the “knowledge of God” to enable us to live like, worship like, and love Jesus Christ”.

As I said at our Semi-Annual Meeting in June 2016, “As I have searched out His ways and reasons (regarding church growth), it seems pretty clear that God has given us this time to “examine ourselves”, all in an effort to allow us to demonstrate a purposeful and strategic method of evangelizing and making disciples of the nations. The very purpose of this church as stated in our Constitution”.

Considering that we have had some new faces around BPBC this year, Mr. Andy Diaz was baptized here and continues to grow in the faith, and I have have the privilege of talking with many of you this year – I’d say it was a blessed one! Prayerfully we demonstrate all that we are called to now at The Blue Point Bible Church, and all the more as we grow into 2017 – all for His glory!

#ProjectRESTORE

You could rightly say much of my life’s mission is that by teaching and preaching the “knowledge of God”, and demolish anything that hinders a healthy understanding of it. Early on in 2016, I felt convicted that there are so many beautiful, worthwhile, and wholesome realities that many are missing out on and they need to be restored.

We continued our allowance of Heroin Anonymous to use our churches, even trying to fix up our basement a bit, allowing for a more beautiful, worthwhile, and wholesome experience of sobriety while at BPBC. Also, we further jumped into outreach this year – developing a BPBC Philosophy of Outreach, participating in Hope Day, maintaining a close relationship with the Suffolk County Police Department, local Civics and community groups, as well as various other efforts to bring common grace to our neighbors and the world.

Also, with the help of It Is Finished Organization (my fiancee’s startup non-profit) we renovated the playground at BPBC. Currently, our Children’s Ministry is in need of a “new beginning”, however in faith we moved forward offer a more beautiful and worthwhile playground – hopinf “if we build, they will come”.

Come to The Blue Point Bible Church to learn more about and to get involved with our “outreach philosophy”.

THE POWER OF PRETERISM NETWORK

As a mature Christians at BPBC who readily understand Bible prophecy to be fulfilled – thus making us “Preterists” – we are continually encouraged with the advancement of the modern reformation. The Power of Preterism Network exists to network Christians who believe in the reformation of Full Preterism/ Fulfillment/ Fulfilled Eschatology and the effect it is  having on the church, by provide exhortation and leadership in regards to being Christian and Preterist, as well as moving toward establishing apologetic and evangelism efforts, education venues, outreach, ordination, church planting and more…Also, The Power of Preterism Network (TPPN) maintains an informative resource website as well as details from the annual Bible conference at The Blue Point Bible Church.

We have seen so many come to the understanding of Full Preterism and be edified and encouraged by our work at TPPN in 2016. We had a great conference in March 2016 and look forward to another great one in March 2017 – more information coming soon. You can view the various videos produced through the past years conferences at the following link, http://www.powerofpreterism.com/preterism-.html

This year I had the opportunity to speak on “The Efficacy of the Local Church” on the Montly Fulfilled Prophecy Conference Call which you can listen to and review at the following link, https://preteristconferencecalls.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/01-michael-miano-the-efficacy-of-the-local-church/. Also, an article I had written on Reformation Now: End Times Views Matter was published in the Winter 2016 issue of Fulfilled! Magazine, which should soon be posted on PDF at the following link, http://www.fulfilledcg.com/Site/Magazine/magazine_previous_issues.htm

TFC Magazine was a great resource throughout 2016, however I realize I only posted 3 articles in 2016. Much more to come in 2017, however you can review those articles at the following link, http://tfcmag.com/preview1.php?&search=by%20Michael+Miano

I am currently working with Mr. Ricky Carranza from Finland on a documentary regarding a genuine everyday Christianity that ultimately leads to understanding Full Preterism. As always, so many resources coming from the “Preterist Movement”, I look forward to keep you in the loop through The Power of Preterism Network Updates at www.powerofpreterism.wordpress.com. Through our efforts with TPPN we look to offer more clarity and strategy in being “On the Frontlines of Reformation and Revival” in 2016.

Look forward to more about #TeamPRETERIST in 2017 (we are currently redoing some of the strategy). Look forward to our “Book of Revelation” Bible Conference on March 24th-26th, 2017 at The Blue Point Bible Church (again, more information coming soon).

In the meantime, a resource I recommend you getting your hands on is the new DVD – Resurrecting the Past – which can be ordered at the following link, https://zephonministries.blogspot.com/p/dvd-store.html

(We will have a public showing (with popcorn) at the Blue Point Bible Church in mid-January 2017). 🙂

MGW (Miano Gone Wild) MINISTRIES

There will be quite a bit of changes with my ministry “Miano Gone Wild”. Primarily, it will be changed from solely an online radio platform to a full-fledged ministry – online radio, YouTube video teachings, and blogging. Another aspect that will changed will by the style of the programs. Let’s face it. Those of you who know me know my constant almost neurotic desire to “name and label” things. I am not realizing that doing this, especially on MGW Online Radio often hinders and becomes a distraction from authentic learning and zeal, ends up puts me in a box so to speak, all of which is set to change in 2017.

In the past year, on MGW Online Radio (which is currently under construction at www.MianoGoneWild.com) I offered broadcasts dealing with Church History, Ignatian Spirituality, and more recently “The Flavors of Preterism”. While I enjoyed much of what these series offered, I know many desire a more natural expression of “Miano Gone Wild”. So…look forward to a new weekly style and show starting Monday, January 2nd, 2017.

The combination of my YouTube and blog site to MGW Ministries will prayerfully allow for more edification to flow through my learning and sharing. On YouTube I shared a couple different series – 3Pi YouTube Series, From Fasting to Feasting, and I am currently going through a series called “Gaining a Narrative Theology”. You can watch those videos and more at the following link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfOfWwisYZA

My reading and learning of course usually has a lot to do with what I am zealously sharing and what I hope to transmit to you. Some books that I read and shared this year were Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, many Church history texts, dating and marriage books, Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson, A contemporary look at Ignatian Spirituality, Redirectional Idealism by Don Perry, The Journey to Grace by Richard Belcher, Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser, and Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller. I look forward to reading many more books this coming year, however I read an interesting quote this morning that I pray will be fruitful in my reading and application in 2017:

Book reading is of small value unless the truths which pass before the mind are grasped, appropriated, and carried out in their practical issues”. – Charles Spurgeon

GROWING INTO 2017

That leads leads us into a summary of 2016. If you’ve been tuned in to our ministry at The Blue Point Bible Church, as well as all that has been done through the ministries I work in and through, this past year the truth of the “ever-reforming nature of the Church” was highlighted in our learning more about the Church. Through our examining and coming to a more beautiful, worthwhile, and wholesome understanding and expression of our identity as the Church, we have opened more opportunities to grow into 2017 – full of grace and full of truth.

I look forward to growing into 2017 with a marked-out authenticity in preaching, discipleship, and outreach. In September 2016 I woke up one morning thinking about my calling in Christ. I wrote in my notes that “God designed me with a thirst for knowledge, a diligence to study through details, and a desire to share.” This reminded me of my initial zeal (what I often refer to as being “freaked out”) and desire to learn and share the Truth – a zeal empowered by knowledge. I pray that I will express more of that in 2017.

In my life and ministry I have made the resolution to be more authentic and bold in my expression of 1 Timothy 1:5 – loving with a pure heart, maintaining a good conscience toward God and others, as well as living and offering a sincere faith. My mantra has been “zeal empowered by knowledge” which I believe is the living out of my calling as detailed in Titus 1:9 – exhort others with sound doctrine and rebuke those who oppose it.

Ministry at The Blue Point Bible Church will move forward with the vision of #AThinkingFaith. The hash-tag (#) symbolizes our desire to share and be a blessing to the world. We give what we have – a thinking faith. A faith that is build upon heeding to the wisdom of Scripture – studying to show ourselves approved and rightly dividing the Word (2 Timothy 2:15), examing all things and holding fast to that which is good(1 Thessalonians 5:21), and being able and ready to share that with the world (1 Peter 3:15).

I ended classes regarding Immersed Discipleship a couple of months ago for a couple of reasons. Primarily, in being authentic I want to move away from programs and “naming”, and instead truly allow individuals to experience this immersion. We will offer three different Bible reading tracks, and a forum-based Saturday morning Bible Study (9AM-11:15AM) led by Pastor Mike Miano for immersion into Biblical topics and themes as well as Q & A in keeping with individual Bible reading. Set up a meeting with Pastor Mike to learn more about Immersed Discipleship.

We anticipate more and more authentic outreach in keeping with our BPBC Outreach Philosophy of simply serving where we feel inspired and burdened. XD Youth (our new youth ministry for ages 12-16) will be hosting Friday Night Bible Studies at 6:30PM, and on the last Friday of ever month we will throw a “youth party”. It Is Finished Organization looks forward to more organization and activities in 2017 as well. I am praying and resolving to do much more intercessory prayer in 2017. After all, it was one of my favorite Christian leaders, Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “Intercession prayer is the most promising way to reach out neighbors, and corporate prayer offered in the Name of Jesus, the purest form of fellowship”.

Also, in the new year look forward to the following (however there is truly much more in store):

  • Launch Reformation NOW which is a ‘ministry’ designed intentionally to encourage reformation in the Christian Church, ultimately leading to a greater revival and revolution.
  • Launch L.I.F.E. (Learning Institute of Fulfilled Eschatology) – certificate program
  • Publish Wicked
  • Publish Returning to Our First Love: Biblical Narrative Study Guide

I really do look forward to a blessed and God-glorifying year at The Blue Point Bible Church, as well as all that I have the privilege to participate in. God willing, you will join me in some of these efforts.

I pray the following words of Jim Elliot, a servant of Christ and a martyr for the faith, will be exemplified in and through my life, Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

In Service to Him,

Cheers to a Blessed Year,

Pastor Michael Miano

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Spiritual Stuff: Disagreeing with Dr. Michael Heiser

“The path has not been easy. It came with risk and discomfort. Friends, pastors, and colleagues at times misunderstood my questions and rebuttals of their proposed answered. Conversations didn’t always end well. That sort of things happens when you demand that creeds and traditions get in line with the Biblical text”.

Recently I had the pleasure of listening to brother Travis Finley’s podcast, Rethinking Revelation, with a guest appearance by Dr. Michael Heiser, a well known Old Testament/ Ancient Near East scholar.

You can listen to that podcast at the following link,

https://www.spreaker.com/user/rtb4tftx/episode-17-interview-w-mike-heiser

While highly esteeming his credentials, and in many regards would seemingly be a “grasshopper in his sight”, I have come to be in sharp disagreement with him. Namely, his understanding of the “Divine Heavenly Council”, also however his perspective on the “spirit realm”.

I finished reading Dr. Heiser’s book, The Unseen Realm, a couple of months ago and have been planning to write a short review. Plainly, this is a classic example of someone saying so much I find myself in agreement with, yet finding myself completely disagreeing with them in many other regards. How does that happen!?!?

In the opening introduction, Dr. Heiser explains his coming to understand his view of the “heavenly council” in such a manner:

“There it was, plain as day: The God of the Old Testament was part of an assembly – a pantheon – of other gods”.

I heard about this “heavenly council” view from Pastor David Curtis of Berean Bible Church, and then of BBC’s elders, Jeff McCormack wrote an article for FULFILLED! Magazine on the same topic. Simply put, I have found no substance for this view and see it to disturb the way the ancients would have understood things, as well as the narrative of the Bible.

Oddly enough, Dr. Heiser make the following points in his book;

He speaks about his seeking to understand the “heavenly council”, as a “…a place evangelicals fear to tread”, something I experienced by and large as I studied eschatology and came to understand Full Preterism.

“The explanations I found from evangelical scholars were disturbingly weak….”, which again would be true of my journey. Actually, some of this was shown by Dr. Heiser’s explanations of Revelation (as detailed in the above podcast I shared).

“When I looked beyond the world of evangelical scholarship, I discovered that other scholars had churned out dozens of articles and books…”, again I think of men like Dr. Don K. Preston, Dr. Ed Stevens, among many other scholarly men who influenced me as I navigated toward the truth of Full Preterism, in opposition to what other “evangelical scholars” had to say about eschatology.

“My conscience wouldn’t let me ignore my own Bible in order to retain the theology with which I was comfortable. Was my loyalty to the text or to the Christian tradition? Did I really have to choose between the two? – And there we have the ongoing reformation mindset. Glory to God!

I have to say upfront that I appreciate Dr. Michael Heiser and the mind that God has given him. He clearly has a desire to know, understand, and teach the truth. He mentioned the amount of time it took him to finally write a book on these views, 15 years. At that I feel I must be humbled and tread lightly in my critique. I’m not a know-it-all, so as I study, I’ll either have better responses or be proven wrong – so be it. In the meantime, I am disturbed that a man can have so much right, yet miss so much on the other end.

Also, I totally agree with Dr. Michael Heiser’s approach in understanding the Bible. He clearly recommends a healthy understanding of “audience relevance” as well as the points he made in the following quotes:

“Our traditions, however honorable, are not intrinsic to the Bible. They are systems we invent to organize the Bible. They are artificial. They are filters”.

“The facts of the Bible are just pieces – bits of scattered data. Our tendency is to impose order, and to do that we apply a filter. But we gain a perspective that is both broader and deeper if we allow ourselves to see the pieces in their own wider context. We need to see the mosaic created by the pieces”.

I am a big advocate of what it referred to as “Narrative Theology”. Not the quote unquote liberal theory of Narrative Theology, but rather a big “picture theology” that is shaped by an understanding of the whole story that graces the page of Scripture. However, it would seem my and Dr. Heiser’s understanding of that narrative differs.

Dr. Heiser says, “The story of the Bible is about God’s will for, and rule of, the realms He has created, visible and invisible, through the images He created, human and nonhuman. This divine agenda is played out in both realms, in deliberate tandem”.

I would summarize the Biblical narrative to be a big picture reality on how man has come to and can come to know the truth of God. If man coming to know God is redemption, then what we read through the pages of Scripture is the historical detailing of that redemption. God used Old Covenant Israel as His historical people and example through which man’s sin is highlighted and offered the gift of grace through the Messiah. God wants man to rule, reign, and rest with Him and for Him and that is found “in the Spirit”, however man naturally leans upon his own misunderstands (cf. Proverbs 3:5-6). Man leaning upon his own misunderstanding, in contrast to heeding the truth of God (Spirit) is the conceptual reality that is highlighted in the Genesis account, and than man being saved from that through the Messiah is highlighted in the last 2 chapters of the Book of Revelation.

Where I have come to sharply disagree is how Dr. Heiser is his understanding of “the intersection of our domain and the unseen world”. I remember reading through various books and articles on Hebrew mythology and the Ancient Near East and wondering how did all of this reflect upon the details I find in Scripture. How does the truth of Scripture contrast the understanding of the ancient near eastern myths and cults? It would seem that Dr. Heiser has allowed these “Hebrew myths” to develop his understanding of the “heavenly council”, which in some respects has become his “filter” (talked about above).

Honestly, I couldn’t fully read through the book. He used a host of texts (some you will find in a picture below), and used them in a very erroneous matter. I couldn’t stomach the disagreement any more, so I jumped to some chapters, and then finally just reading the last 2 chapters to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Dr. Heiser uses Psalm chapter 82, of which he says, “has at its core the unseen realm and its interaction with the human world”.

Let’s take a look at Psalm 82:

“God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked? Vindicate the weak and the fatherless do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. They do not know nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods”, and all of you are sons of the Most High. Nevertheless you will die like men, and fall like any one of the princes”. Arise I God, judge the earth! For it is Thou who dost possess all the nations”.

I am baffled that this text could cause so much disruption in Dr. Heiser’s view. The is surely a Messianic picture. God taking His stand is God coming in judgment, and that judgement would be in the midst of His people. Thus is why Jesus Christ quotes this passage in John 10:34-37. Jesus is explaining to the Jews (who are the rulers who judged unjustly and showed partiality to the wicked), namely they did not follow the command of Deuteronomy 4:6-9. Not to see this is to miss the entire point of the Old Testament and the purpose of the Messiah coming to His own. I have no idea how this verse disturbed Dr. Heiser.

Old Covenant Israel was those who walked in darkness and did not know nor understand. Israel was suppose to have the presence of God, however due to sin, which was highlighted by the picture in the garden (which would have been a covenant story for Israel throughout all their generations) they were separated – thus “dying like men, and falling like the princes”.

Dr. Heiser’s confusion is compounded because he has said, “At no point in the Old Testament does the Scripture teach that Jews or Jewish leaders were put in authority over the other nations”. I put a big frown in the book next to this statement. How could Dr. Heiser miss this?

Israel was given the oracles of God (cf. Romans 3:2), they were to rule and reign over the nations as they lived the example of the Law (cf. Deuteronomy 4:6-9), and they came under judgment again and again for failing to live up to this, ultimately culminating in the AD 70 “coming of the Lord”.

After hearing Dr. Heiser on the Rethinking Revelation podcast and really paying attention to his thoughts on eschatology, I realized maybe he needs to return to study of the Biblical narrative past the ancient near east. The “spiritual realm” which is being conveyed through the whole of Scripture (from Genesis to Revelation) is a conceptual reality (an actual reality being made known through a picture), not a dualistic other-world.

Through covenant God chooses those who dwell in His presence, His people had been removed from His presence only to gain access through Jesus Christ at the end of the age (cf. 1 Corinthians chapter 10; Hebrews 9:26). No other gods dwell there.

I urge a study on all the verses that will be in the picture below – of course after a healthy understanding of the Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation. Keep an eye out for my book, Wicked, due to be published in March 2017 which will deal with some of these details as well as an examination of all things wicked – Satan, demons, hell,etc…

In Service to Him,

Pastor Michael Miano

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#BeingCHRISTIAN Exams (Parts I & II)

Constantly & Consistently

Even as I wake up this morning and take a look at social media I am noticing the demand for a more “consistent Christianity” will always be at the heart of the masses. We just closed a sermon series called #BeingCHRISTIAN at The Blue Point Bible Church a couple of weeks ago, however the examination and effort to constantly reform ourselves to be more consistent Christians is an on-going, dare I say eternal reality.

Prayerfully, you found time to listen to some of the podcasts of that series (www.buzzsprout.com/11630), maybe read through some of the blogs regarding “Consistency Principles (www.mianogonewild.wordpress.com), and/or reviewed our last exam which will be posted below as well.

This exam has been formed and detailed in the following manner:

Each of our members & attendees at The Blue Point Bible Church were asked to provide characteristics and Bible verses that mark out characteristics of what it means to to be a Christian. Each week in the sermon portion of our Worship Service, as well as through his personal blog, Pastor Miano marked out “Consistency Principles” that summed up the characteristics provided by each person. This “exam” will highlight the Consistency Principles as a resource for you to examine yourself – constantly and consistently.

PART I

We are called to be disciples & make disciples of Jesus Christ .

How can you begin to intentionally and actively reach others with the Gospel in your life?

We must grow in the knowledge of His Word (2 Timothy 2:15), – “together” cf. Ephesians chapter 4.
Are you actively growing in the grace and knowledge of God? What opportunities can you get involved with to do so? What community do you need to begin gathering with?

Going to Church” (cf. Hebrews 10:24).
Do you take advantage of “Going to Church”. When are you going to start?

Wisdom (cf. James 1:5)
Are you become wise through the knowledge of God? Are you asking for it? Are you exercising wisdom in your life?

Faith (cf. Hebrews 11:6; 1 Timothy 1:5).
Do you live with faith rather than leaning upon your own understanding? In what situations might you be able to express more faith in God’s work rather than your abilities or understanding of the situation?

Faithfulness
Where is God looking for more faithfulness on your part? Are you persevering in the faith in all regards?

Freedom (cf. John chapter 8; Galatians 5:1).
“God is most glorified when you are most satisfied in Him”.
Are you finding that freedom and satisfaction in Christ? If not, what is keeping you back?

Diligence & Discernment

Are you studying and rightly interpreting God’s Word in accordance with 2 Timothy 2:15 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17? What study habits can you work on or studies can you attend? Are you exercising discernment not to lean upon your own misunderstandings or the “doctrines of men”? Are you aware of God’s will for humanity, the world, and the future? Are you living in line with it?

Righteous Living (see, Ephesians 4:20-5:2; 5:3-20).

In what areas is God renewing your mind and your life? What characteristics of the “old self” to do see all too often and need to “lay aside”? How are you doing in areas such as speaking truth to others (remembering as Christians we are members of one another)? Do you let go of anger and forbid opportunity for it to fester? Do you work hard to benefit others?

Wholesome Communication

When you communicate with others are they edified? How can you grow in this regard? Are you kind in speech or prone to interrupt? Are you encouraging or seemingly lacking faith? Are you a blessing to speak to? How can you become more wholesome in your communication in an effort to “seek peace and pursue it”?

Spiritual Promptings (cf.1 Thessalonians 5:16-24;1 Chronicles 12:32)

It’s only when we are listening to the “promptings of the Spirit”, in the season that we are in, that we will be confident in what God is going in and through us.

We need to be a people marked by alertness, readiness, and prepared for a “move, or the “work” of God
Are you alert, ready, and prepared to be used by God for the benefit of others? What can or should you be doing to grow in this regard?

Children of the Light” – know the times, know what Jesus Christ has done, & know what God wants us to do in the current moment.
Do you have a correct knowledge of the times? Do you know what God wants His people to be doing?

Knowledge of Contextual Types and Antitypes (cf. Colossians 2:16-17, 1 Corinthians chapter 10, Hebrews chapters 8-10)

Are you “studying to show yourself approved, rightly dividing (interpreting) the word of truth”

The Naked and Unashamed reality of being in God’s presence.( cf. Genesis 2:25 ; Luke 17:21; Romans 8:1)

Do you know and understand the presence of God in your life and demonstrate that in a “naked and unashamed” fashion? Take a moment to pray to God and thank Him for this glorious reality consummated through Jesus Christ. Allow God’s “good” to be your “good”.

PART II

  • Define each of these characteristics & then prayerfully ask yourself how you can be more consistent in living each one of them out. Maybe, God is challenging you to take a couple and work on becoming more consistent in those regards?

Always Rejoicing –

Prayerful –

Thankful –

Patient –

Faithful –

Kind –

Loving –

Looking for good in others-

Abstain from Evil –

Obedience –

Convicted of and by sin –

Seeking the lost with the Gospel –

Giving God the glory –

Read the Bible/ Seek God’s Word –

Studying to show oneself approved (studious) –

Attending Fellowship & Worship Service with the Church –

Committed –

Discipline/ Self-Control –

Forgiving –

Serving others –

Walking worthy of your calling –

Trusting in Christ –

Joyful –

Honesty with Compassion –

Care for the widow and the orphan –

Die Daily –

Love the Brotherhood of faith –

Giving/ Sharing –

Welcoming and seeking to be welcomed –

Prayer –

Wisdom –

Peaceful –

Gentleness –

Unifying –

*Here is a list of Bible verses put together by our BPBC community that mark out Christian Living. Maybe pick one or two and focus on that as far as finding consistency in your #BeingCHRISTIAN.

2 Peter 3:18 1 Thessalonians 3:8

1 Thessalonians 5:12-23 Psalm 91

Ephesians 5:1 Ephesians 2:8-10

Romans 12:2 Ephesians 4:23

James 4:7 Colossians 3:5-8

Philippians 4:4 2 Peter 1:5-8

1 John 4:7 Proverbs 3:5-6

Hebrews 13:5 Matthew 6:33

Ephesians 4:1-3 2 Corinthians 9:15

Romans 8:28 Romans 10:9

John 13:34 2 Timothy 2:15

Luke 17:4 Proverbs 14:6

Revelation 21:3 Matthew 22:36-40

James 2:17 Galatians 5:22-23

John 1:12 Romans 15:7

2 Corinthians 6:17 Matthew 22:32

Mark 4:34 1 Corinthians 14:33

John 21:22 Ephesians 5:15-16

Ephesians 6:13-18 1 Corinthians 14:1

1 Peter 1:5-6 1 Peter 3:10-11

Isaiah 43:1 1 Peter 5:6-7

James 5:10 James 1:19-20

Deuteronomy 12:12-14 Colossians 4:6

Psalm 119:7-8 John 3:16-17

2 Corinthians 5:17 Matthew 6:24

Romans 12:10 John 15:12-15

Wow, that is 52 passages for you to be continually edified and to take a closer look at your living out our faith!

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

Blue Point Bible Church

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