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Conference Sale – Clarity In Revelation PDF

For this weekend, August 3rd-5th, while the Spirit & Life Lectures 2018 is taking place, you can order a $3 PDF file of Clarity in Revelation (more about book & link below).

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Clarity in Revelation is a study guide to accompany one’s study of the Book of Revelation in the Bible. Michael Miano has preached sermons through the Book of Revelation at The Blue Point Bible Church and continues to teach about Revelation through a video series on Facebook LIVE and The Power of Preterism Network’s YouTube page.

Here is the link to make your purchase, https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=D8RR45874CN9Y

 

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Jew and Gentile Reconciled. A Review of Bryan E. Lewis’s book

For the last couple days, I have been sharing quotes on my social media from a book I have just finished called Jew and Gentile Reconciled: An Exploration of the Ten Northern Tribes in Pauline literature. I have appreciated the various writings I have come across by Bible teacher and academic, Mr. Bryan E. Lewis. This book was full of scholarly notations, provided great historical and textual context, and highlighted a topic often confused in theological studies. Mr. Lewis brings us through details regarding the terms of “Jew” and “Gentile” (some of which I detail in this blog), he highlights how the terms are used throughout Biblical literature, and of great importance in my studies, he highlights the confusion many have brought to the study, specifically noting the distorted views that have been offered through Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology.

WHO ARE THE GENTILES
Mr. Lewis wrote, “Paul’s quotation of Hosea has largely been understood as only applicable to first – century Gentiles, even though the original meaning was directed to the northern tribes of Israel.” It’s all to easy for contemporary Bible teachers to assert that the mention of Gentiles spoke to nations outside of Israel. Not so fast. This lends to recent studies I have been engaging. To add a witness to the great insights offered by Mr. Lewis, I would recommend the sermon by Pastor David Curtis, of Berean Bible Church, called “Who Are The Gentiles?”.

http://www.bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/ephesians/eph-02_17-18_who-are-the-gentiles.html

SWALLOWED AMONG THE GENTILES
Mr. Lewis went into detail regarding the prophecy that was uttered in Hosea, ultimately that the northern tribes would be swallowed up by the Gentiles (Hosea 8:8) and would become not His people (Hosea 1:8). He writes, “…the northern tribes would become an eclectic mix of people with no discrete national identity, scattered to the Gentile nations, and thus, outside the covenant community of YHWH – effectively becoming Gentiles”. Looking at 2 Kings chapter 17, Mr. Lewis also shares historical mention of those details from 1st century historian Josephus, who in Antiquities writes;

“But now the Cutheans, who removed into Samaria, [for that is the name they have been called by to this time, because they were brought out of the country called Cuthah, which is a country of Persia, and there is a river of the same name in it,] each of them, according to their nations, which were in number five, brought their own gods into Samaria, and by worshipping them, as was the custom of their own countries, they provoked Almighty God to be angry and displeased at them, for a plague seized upon them, by which they were destroyed; and when they found no cure for their miseries, they learned by the oracle that they ought to worship Almighty God, as the method for their deliverance. So they sent ambassadors to the king of Assyria, and desired him to send them some of those priests of the Israelites whom he had taken captive. And when he thereupon sent them, and the people were by them taught the laws, and the holy worship of God, they worshipped him in a respectful manner, and the plague ceased immediately; and indeed they continue to make use of the very same customs to this very time, and are called in the Hebrew tongue Cutlans, but in the Greek tongue Samaritans.”

Furthermore, Mr. Lewis notes that, “…much speculation – both historical and theological in nature – has evolved over the past two millennia about the precise identity and location of the “ten lost tribes”. Where and who are the descendants of the formerly deported Israelites? In my opinion, based on the date available to us, the answer is: they assimilated into the Gentile nations via the Assyrian conquest and became regarded as Gentiles because of their various losses of distinctive identity”.

The point he continues to lead into is that due to the “Assyrianization” of the northern tribes, in the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, “…the Gentile nations come to salvation concurrently with the restoration and ingathering of Israel (all twelve tribes). Mr. Lewis quotes Christian theologian and philosopher, Jack Cottrell, “The consensus seems to be that the ten “lost” tribes’ permanent exile has so intermingled them with the Gentiles that the evangelization of the group will necessarily involve the evangelization of the other”.

THE PROPHETIC HOPE OF ISRAEL
In my studies I have come to demand interpretation of the Gospel as the fulfillment of the “hope of Israel” that was made known through the Law and the Prophets (cf. Acts 24:14). I readily note that the fulfillment would also be done in a rather mysterious way (cf.1 Peter 1:10-12), however, that should not allow for all the development of historically detached views of the Gospel. The method through which Mr. Lewis consistently applies the details of the Biblical narrative was so refreshing to read. In talking about Pauline literature, he notes, “Paul’s motive was to create a “theological narrative”, which had immediate significance for his own contemporaries as an exemplary catalyst for eliciting faith in Israel’s Messiah”. In working out the details of how the Apostle Paul would have understood the details of the fulfillment of the Hope of Israel, Mr. Lewis makes the following insightful statements:
“Paul was well aware that all of Israel’s restoration promises encompassed the return of both houses of Israel”.
“Paul likely under that many of the northern tribes of Israel were not, in fact, completely destroyed by the Assyrians in the eight century BCE and lost to time, but instead had acculturated with heathen non-Israelites, thereby losing their identity and effectively becoming “not my people”, or Gentiles”.

“…Paul’s appropriation of Hosea 1:9-10 and 2:23 in Romans 9:24-26 is likely employed intentionally to evoke the promise of Israel’s restoration as a robust metanarrative in Paul’s efforts toward Jewish and Gentile reconciliation”.

“Paul did not view both Gentiles and northern tribes as two distinct unconnected ethnic groups, but instead, as uniformly homogeneous”.
“In other words, Paul’s mission to the Gentiles was the vehicle whereby the northern tribes would be gathered from exile, reconciled, and restored with the southern kingdom of Judah in the land. By extension, those who had always been outside the covenant would also be reconciled to the Lord. In this way, Israel, as God’s special heralds, was the nucleus of the Lord’s plan to save all humanity”.

GENTILE SALVATION
Mr. Lewis quotes, renowned British New Testament scholar, C.E.B. Cranfield, in that “Paul takes this (Hosea’s) promise as a proof of God’s purpose to include the Gentiles in His salvation”. Mr. Lewis couples this thought with a thought of his own, “…the gathering of the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah is coterminous with the Gentiles putting their hope in “the root of Jesse”. I hope you catch the significance of the point being made here. In God’s demonstration of His faithfulness to the promises He gave to Israel (all twelve tribes), we find the necessary extension of God’s promises to those outside those tribes. Mr. Lewis notes various passages such as Isaiah chapter 11 wherein after the restoration “the nations shall inquire” (v.10) or the “nations shall never again…” which we read of in Ezekiel 37:22, which speak to realities after the restoration. Not only does this highlight that, “…the Gentiles are converted as Israel is restored from exile (Ezekiel 39:21-29)”, but also that there would be a continuance after the restoration. Glory to God!
RESTORATION OF ALL
The conclusive thought I would like to end with is that the faithfulness, the love, and the sovereign wisdom of God are demonstrated by understanding the points Mr. Lewis brings out in his book. In noting the historical details of God’s judgement upon the northern tribes and their being swallowed up among the Gentiles, we come to know that “The Gentiles consisting of eclectic mix of people with no discrete national identity (i.e., the covenantally divorced northern tribes and those who were never a part of the commonwealth of Israel) – would be renewed to the worship of YHWH through Paul’s mission; and as a result, they would ALL flow unto Jerusalem (i.e., the land (cf. Isaiah 2:2)”. The term Gentile therefore “… is a term that both expresses and is inclusive of the ultimate restoration and ingathering of the northern tribes of Israel. Subsequently, it is inclusive of the restoration of all humanity”. Furthermore, noting the Apostle Paul’s nostalgia for Israel’s redemptive narrative as made known through the Law and the Prophets, his “…appropriation of Hosea 1:9-10 and 2:23 in Romans 9:25-26 was neither a radical misreading nor an attempt to change the meaning away from the original context – i.e., the northern tribes. Moreover, nor was it a methodical attempt to appropriate the verses toward a detached group called Gentiles – i.e., they were not detached in Paul’s mind. Instead, it was a deliberate hermeneutical scheme designed to show that the ingathering of the Gentile nations also meant the ingathering of the northern tribes, and thus the end of Israel’s exile. It was the time of universal restoration of all”.

A NECESSARY PARTICULARISM
I appreciated that Mr. Lewis asserted that “Paul continually advances a corporate-community election over an individual election”. I often get frustrated when I read Christian writers completely abusing the textual context of that which the Apostle Paul is speaking to. Corporate salvation not individual salvation. That is not to say that we cannot understand individual election by studying out the concept of corporate election, however that’s a study for another time. I did follow up in discussion with Mr. Lewis regarding the mention of “ultimate restoration of all humanity” and “universal restoration of all”. Too be quite honest, I had a preconceived idea that Mr. Lewis would repudiate any understanding of Universalism, and sure enough he did. He remarked, “It is common among Pauline scholars to understand that Paul was talking about particularism not universalism”. Simply put, “all” doesn’t necessarily mean all, and requires a contextually study of the text it is being used in.

Overall this was an excellent read. If you have questions about the “Jews and Gentiles”, or if you want to get a better grasp on how the Apostle Paul used Old Testament texts in explaining the Gospel, this book is necessary. Here is a link to get a copy for yourself, https://www.glossahouse.com/product-page/jew-and-gentile-reconciled
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Michael Miano

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Tj Smith’s, Kingdom Come – A Must Read!!

Kingdome ComeSimply put, TJ Smith’s book, Kingdom Come: Messiah’s Methodical Manifesto Hidden in His Parables, was a thrilling read, full of important truths brought forth in a simple and a humorous way. As a pastor who is always looking for books to give to church newcomers, I was excited to finish this book and to recommend it as a resource. Please read further as I share some details that were impressed upon me as I read through the book.
I rather enjoyed the bold and pointed way that TJ shared Biblical truths. He started out highlighting the main issue in the Church regarding the way many Christians have come to understand the Bible. He says, “Life application in our culture has become equivalent to the Allegorical Method of the 2nd-4th century, where the true meaning of Scripture is traded for some cheapened, perceived deeper, hidden meaning”. He further notes, “Instead of studying to fully understand the depths of God’s redemptive plan, Christians feast on feel-good messages that dull the Spirit and lullaby their souls to sleep, rendering them ineffectual for the Kingdom”. TJ Smith takes this point a bit further than simply charging Christians with the need to study, rather he also highlights the responsibility of the Church in fostering and cultivating healthy study environments and access to information. TJ therein remarks, “If someone wants to learn about Church history, the early Church, or even Jewish customs and traditions, they must go to a campus to pay for the information, invest in a small library and devote years to study, or trust in the Sunday School teacher. That is a real tragedy and shortcoming of the Church that needs to be corrected for future Believers to have a proper understanding of God’s salvific history”.

As the pastor of a local church that seeks to be on the “front lines” of walking worthy in the solution to the issues TJ expressed, I find his book to be a great resource to hand out as an introduction to the way we are supposed to understand and interpret the Bible. At The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch) we encourage saints to develop what we call “A Thinking Faith”. Rather than being content with the “life application” that TJ lamented and I mentioned above, we continually talk through proper Bible interpretation and necessary historical context. This is what I believe TJ had in mind when he wrote, “…it was the Savior’s intent to instruct the listeners with the necessary ‘method’ of deciphering His parables and that with this ‘correct method’ the results would be exponential”.

As a church that knows and understands Full Preterism and the “present truth” of God’s kingdom, I absolutely loved the way TJ Smith challenged Futurism and the delayed fulfillment and fullness of the Kingdom. He writes, “Gee, what a toss up! I can’t decide. Hmm…believe in a half-baked kingdom, ‘already but not yet’ from a man who failed to do as he said, aka a false prophet? Or…believe in a perfectly executed plan of redemption and salvation with a perfect Kingdom in fully power?…what to do…what…to…do.” He further adds, “Nothing about the parables of the Kingdom are about our future (except our inclusion in the Kingdom)”. I would add the necessary component of understanding not only the historical context and understanding of the Harvest (judgement in AD 70), but also the implications of that fulfillment. I refer to this as the “Harvest Narrative”. In his book, TJ uses the Gospel of Mark to go through the parables, however, in talking through the harvest/judgement, I find the Gospel of Matthew to be my favorite in talking through what should be understood as “Jewish concepts” (since the focal point of said judgement applied to that generation living in Jerusalem). In Matthew 13:31-32, we read the fulfillment of the Kingdom being likened to the growth of a mustard seed, however not only does the tree go and produce it crops, it also extends blessings to the “birds of the air” (those outside the covenant people). A similar point is made in the “Vineyard Parable” mentioned in Matthew 21:33 – 46, wherein the vineyard owner comes (speaking in reference to the judgement that happened in AD 70) and in his judgement, he gives the vineyard/ Kingdom to another people (showing the force of God consummating the New Covenant at His coming – a people that will produce the fruit).

TJ gets quite theological without being confusing. As I already said, he makes mention of Full Preterism, saying, “Don’t tolerate that old argument that to God “immediately” might be 2,000 years. That’s a lame and ignorant crutch utilized by ill-informed teachers unskilled in interpretation”. He also gives a great exposition of “covenant language” often missed and confused, as used in 2 Corinthians chapters 3-5. And in speaking about the defeat of Satan, he remarks, “If your pastor or favorite TV preacher tells you Jesus still hasn’t defeated the devil, run away or turn the channel! That is unorthodox and heretical! Find a church that believes the Scriptures!”. Yeah, I can’t wait to get a bulk order of these books and give them out to people who are just beginning the journey of understanding the Scriptures.

In conclusion to this review, I must give one last praise of the book, Kingdom Come. Not only did the book spur me to study a bit, as well as provided some laughs at the points TJ makes, he even offered the challenge of living in a way consistent with understanding the Kingdom as a present reality. TJ challenges the reader with the question, “What is it that you do that eases the pain and suffering of those around you?” He highlights this as the ‘one central truth’, and he notes, “You just shine your light on your hill and if we all do that, we will light the world for Christ”.

I really appreciated this book TJ. Thanks for your work.
To God be the glory!

– Pastor Michael Miano

*** Purchase your copy of Kingdome Come at the following link, https://www.amazon.com/Kingdom-Come-Messiahs-Methodical-Manifesto/dp/1979505314/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519246399&sr=8-1&keywords=kingdom+come+messiahs

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The Pastor: His Qualifications and Duties ( A REVIEW)

               I just finished reading this book which is basically a compilation of the writings done by 19th century Baptist pastor Hezekiah Harvey. I thought it was interesting as a 21st century pastor to look at the historical view of the role of pastor. I took some notes that intrigued me and wanted to share with those who are in the pastorate, are considering it, and those who might help to hold me accountable.

In dealing with the call to serve as pastor, it is of vital importance that the “call to the pulpit” is a there. In the book it was noted that the man called to the pulpit must “feel that he ought to engage in it, and that he cannot do otherwise without guilt”.

“A pastor’s utmost wisdom and discrimination should be employed in inspiring and guiding young men to right thinking in regard to their life-mission”.

                The above quote was an awesome encouragement considering that is what I feel called to do. Lead men and women to find their calling in Christ- this is true DISCIPLESHIP and ultimately is the way we bring “healing to the nations” and help men and women live ‘life to the full’.

                The Freaked Out Movement, which I direct is dedicated to this very cause- helping men and women find their identity in Christ by understanding what burdens and inspires them.

“The modern pulpit, from its neglect of the Bible,  is singularly narrow, exhibiting little of the vast wealth and variety of divine truth. It leaves by far the larger part of the Bible a concealed book. It’s types,, it’s poetry, its prophecies, its parables, its presentations,, as in the epistle to the Romans , of the truths of the gospel in their connection as one grand, comprehensive system of salvation- how little of all this wealth of Scripture is presented in the pulpit”.

                We are in dire need of a REframation dealing with the comprehensive story of Scripture!

“The absence of knowledge even of the fundamental principles of the Christian religion, on the part of many who are hurried into the church, is one of the alarming features of our times.

The lack of Biblical clarity and Biblical literacy is prevalent among so many within the church. “Growing the grace and knowledge of God” of 2 Peter chapter 1 is so important, and instead of making converts who can recite a “sinner’s prayer” we must begin to make disciples who know and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, as well as explain them in a true and reasonable way.

                As I have grown in my understanding of ‘redemptive history’, I have at times put aside the memorial understanding of the Lord’s Supper. I think Mr. Harvey explains the importance of this quite well:

                “Rightly administered, the Lord’s Supper is one of the mightiest forces God has given to inspire and purify the heart and elevate the life of the church”.

                “The care of the souls is the radical idea of the pastor’s office”. This is something I have begun to internalize and keep at the forefront of my work in ministry. Not the afterlife, but the souls in this life- life to the full.

I appreciated the insight of Dr. Cuyler:

                “Young brethren, aim from the start to be thorough pastors. During the week go to those whom you expect to come to you on the Lord’s Day. In the morning of each day study books; in the afternoon study door-plates and human nature. Your people will give you material for your best practical sermons. After an effective Sunday work go around among your flock, as Napoleon rode over the field after a battle- to see where the shot struck and who were among the wounded”.

Dr. Taylor issued the following admonishment:

                “You will make a great mistake if you undervalue the visitation of your people. The pulpit is your throne, no doubt; but then a throne is stable as it rests on the affections of the people, and to get their affections you must visit them in their dwelling”.

Getting back into the writings of Mr. Harvey, he begins to drive home what the life of ministry for a pastor should look like.

“Men differ in their characteristics and modes of working, and each pastor will ordinarily succeed best with his own model”.

                I believe it to be so vitally important for a pastor to know his “hedgehog concept” so to speak. He must know what style he is utilizing for his ministry, what he is most passionate about, and where his focus needs be.

“Above all, the pastor must remember the injunction, “Instant in season, out of season”. He should make the most of opportunities. In the store, the office, and the shop, on the farm, the roadside, and the car- everywhere he is to seek to lead men to Christ”.

                In our day we call this MISSIONAL! A natural outpouring of the Christian Spirit making the fruits of the Spirit not religious, but authentic. “In a minister’s life the danger is he may degenerate into mere professionalism.

“To make the social life of the church strong, healthful, enriching, such as to render it a magnet to attract other souls, is of primary moment in a pastor’s work”.

                I couldn’t have said it any better myself, the only issue we face today is the “attractional model” of ‘doing church’ which seeks to make things fun and hip rather than focusing on teaching and helping foster an understanding of the contextual Biblical gospel. Utilizing Deuteronomy 4:6 helps in these regards.

                Two main ways Mr. Harvey speaks about doing this are “personal effort to promote mutual acquaintances in the congregation by introducing strangers” and “social gatherings in the church”.

“One chief function of a pastor is to develop and utilize the spiritual, mental, and social forces of the church”.

“The minister is, in this respect, a general whom troops are entrusted; his work is to train and organize and lead”.

One of things we believe strongly in our church is being a “congregational led” church. This helps foster the understanding of “the priesthood of Believers” which encourages us all as disciples of Christ to play a role. “Indeed, one of the strongest bonds which bind a church together is the consciousness of being mutual workers, each having a post of duty and a share of responsibility”.

                “A pastor should carefully study his people with the view of ascertaining and utilizing their special aptitudes and gifts”- This my friends is The Freaked Out Movement and should be for all Christian organizations the focus of Discipleship!

“A pastor who will constantly act on the motto, A PLACE AND A WORK FOR EVERY MEMBER, and will press this motto on those who conduct the different departments of wok in his church, will soon find himself at the head of an active, living, and ordinarily happy people, while yet his is not personally overburdened with the details of church-work”.

                Many people within the Church trivialize the importance of being well educated in matters of the gospel and well as other areas- sociology, psychology, various religions and apologetics, among Biblical literacy. “Intellect is a gift of God: it is criminal to leave it undeveloped”.

“It seems to me one of the highest duties of a pastor to foster in such minds a desire and purpose for an education, and to facilitate in every possible way the attainment of that end”.

“A failure to develop his people intellectually is a discredit to any minister”.

“Cultivation of the Missionary Spirit” has got to be my favorite title of a part in Mr. Harvey’s writings, I love the eloquent way he explains the need for the church to be missional:

                 “The importance of a deep, all-pervading missionary spirit in the church can hardly be overrated”.

“To develop and foster a missionary spirit in the church requires, as a first necessity, the presence of such a spirit in the pastor himself”.

                I know men like Alan Hirsch and Shane Claiborne would love to read that quote and say a big “Amen” for the need of church leadership to step outside the church building!

                As I finished the book I took special mention and many quotes from the boom regarding the “Pastoral Study” and the “Life” of a pastor.

“The pastor’s business is to deal with the human mind and the actual experiences of men; he should therefore, go through the world with his eyes and ears open, thoroughly studying men and life around him”.

                That is the missional mindset a pastor must have! Be in the places to hear about the ills of the world, offer insight when necessary, and utilize the things you might hear at “the bar” for the necessary sermons that must be preached!

                Always have a book in hand and consecrate each past of the day for systematic study- awesome thins I have already had in practice!

                Focusing on the ‘cares of the world’ can be the downfall of any man of God, as Mr. Harvey illustrates:

                “Many  a man circumscribes his own intellectual growth and pulpit power, making himself permanently a narrower and weaker man, by allowing these outside cares to destroy his process of mental discipline and growth. Here nothing will overcome but a profound conviction that study- persistent, regular, life-long study- is the solemn first duty of every man who ventures to stand up in the pulpit as an instructor of the people…the most imperative duty of him who teaches others it to teach himself”.

                Hezekiah Harvey also offers various writings to read and areas such as philosophy that should enter into the pastor’s study time to time. Mr. Harvey also holds the pastor in a high regard that he himself should be a model of the things of which he teaches his congregation. I personally believe it is vital that every pastor sit down and create a short list of things he belives to be most important in the Christian life. I would personally write- understanding the contextual gospel (being able to teach it and defend it), being missional, moderation and not religiousity, and the desire to “heal the nations” by way of the gospel.

                At the end of the book, Mr. Harvey includes a quote from the Pilgrim’s Progress which I believe would make a great motto for the Christian pastor:

                “he, had eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written upon his lips, the world was behind his back; he stood as if he pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hand over his head”.

The pastor must have the view of his ministry as “a solemn duty he owes his God, his people, and himself, or he will fail”.

                I hope these quotes and notes may inspire you.

Blessings in Christ,

    Pastor Michael Miano

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