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1 Corinthians 15 Summaries

ImageBack in 2012 I had engaged a discussion on Sam Frost’s webpage (The Reign of Christ) regarding 1 Corinthians chapter 15. Many misled Christians have an erroneous view of this chapter and what is being dealt with. Currently, at The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch.org) we are going through a discussion about “the resurrection of the dead ones” and the details of 1 Corinthians chapter 15 along with other “resurrection texts”. You can listen to those podcasts here:

 http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630

   Since the 1 Corinthians 15 discussions I had with Frost were on a page that is now deleted, I am sure glad I kept them as notes. I want to post those messages here for any insight you might require. 

“Sorry for the delay my friends, I have spent the last 2 days going through the entire book of 1 Corinthians, as well as re-examining my view to make sure it is what the Scriptures say (not a presupposition that I would like it to). I sure hope that is our intention, search the Scriptures and study to show ourselves approved rightly diving the word of Truth, as we discuss the exegete of this chapter.</p><p> </p><p>Gleaning wisdom from the whole book is might be important to point out the context of the letter. The Apostle Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church because he has heard from some of Chloe’s household that there are divisions among the Corinthian Church (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). We see these divisions ranging from who was baptized by who, who men follow, and later in the chapter the freedoms we have in the gospel. The Gentiles within the Corinthian Church clearly felt they were more superior to their Jewish brethren because they did not feel bound by the Law, but Paul continues to remind the Corinthians Church that he himself, along with the other apostles, who are Jews are suffering for this gospel. The grace of God is vital here therefore no man can boast as to where he stands in regards to Christ. But oddly, the Gentiles begin to feel they are something special.With all the context in mind Paul begins to address his brothers in faith at Corinth by reminding them of the gospel, which they have received and have taken their stand (v.1). It is this gospel that they are saved by, if they hold firmly to it, otherwise they have believed in vain (v.2). What Paul has been told as the gospel he has passed on, that according to the Scriptures Christ died for our sins (v.4) as well as being buried and raised on the third day (v.5). Christ then appeared to Peter and then to the twelve (v.5). After that he appeared to more than 500 of the brothers, most of who are still living, but some have fallen asleep (v.6). Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles (v.7), and last he appeared to me, as one abnormally born (v.8).Since I persecuted the Church, I dare not to even be called an apostle and consider myself the least of the apostles (v.9). But it is by the grace of God that I am what I am, and his grace is not without effect. I have worked harder than the other apostles, but it is not I, but the grace of God (v.10). No matter who it was then, this is the gospel that we preach and what you have believed (v.11).But, if we have preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead (v.12). At this point there really wasn’t much exegetical study to do besides context. I imagine we are all in agreement that Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church because he has heard of the divisions going on there and wants to encourage as well as strengthen the Believers there. In doing so, he has addressed the divisions, be they who people are subscribing their “followership to”, the freedom of the gospel, removing the insistent sinner from among them, etc. And now Paul has gone on to remind the Corinthians of the gospel which the apostles are preaching. I end where I do for this installment to make sure my post doesn’t drag on forever and to illustrate the context by which we enter this next part.There is clearly misunderstanding going on in these Believers minds. They believe in the gospel, they stand firm in it, yet they are misunderstanding the resurrection of the dead. This what Paul is about to address in this next part”. 

“Now in context we have Paul writing to the Corinthian church concerning the divisions amongst them, the Gentile-Jew divide that is occurring do to freedoms from the Law, and now we have Paul reminding the Corinthians of the gospel which he has delivered to them. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (v.3), He was buried and raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (v.4)”, and he appeared to Peter, and then to the twelve, after that more than 500 of the brothers at the same time, most who were still living at the time of the letter, then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and lastly he appeared to Paul. It’s by God’s grace that Paul was called to be an apostle, therefore whether it was the others or Paul preaching, the gospel is the same, and this is what the Corinthian church has believed.

“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead (v.12)”

Now it has been said that this is Paul dealing with naysayers of the resurrection of dead bodies, yet I read of no disconnect between the Corinthians who were addressed in verse 11. What it appears from reading the text (as as will be explained throughout the context) is a misunderstanding concerning the resurrection of the dead. “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised (v.13), And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith (v.14)”.

       At this point to the common eye, it appears that Paul is being redundant. If Christ has not been raised there is no resurrection of the dead, well duh. But as he makes clear here, that if Christ has not been raised, and there is no resurrection of the dead, your faith is in vain, and as we will see in later context, if this is the case, there is a lose of hope (v.19).

We must understand this resurrection of the dead concept.The resurrection was the hope of Israel, that Paul always preached (For example, Acts 26 & O.T. Ezekiel chapter 37). If Christ was not raised, Israel was not raised (Hosea chapter 6) and if Israel is not raised, or being raised, then there is no hope for the Gentiles (Romans 11). The promises to the Gentiles are conditioned on the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, therefore the hope of Israel must be true. We clearly see no emphasis on physical body resurrection in this text, it must be forced to make the theme of a future bodily resurrection hope to be in the context.

So now, if Christ has not been raised the preaching of those who said He has appeared to them are false witnesses and those who have believed their testimony, believe in vain (v.15). If the dead are not raised (remember the hope of Israel) then Christ (who is the end of the Law and the fulfillment of the Scriptures) is not raised (v.16). And if Christ is not raised, the faith of those who believe in the gospel message of reconciliation is in vain and they are still in their sins (v.17).

“Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost (v.18)”.

Interesting. So, those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost if there is no resurrection of the dead. Why? Remember the context of this chapter. The first letter to the Corinthians is dealing with the divisions in the Church, and there was a strong sense of Gentile superiority in the first century church, because they weren’t under the Law because it was by grace that they had come to the knowledge of God. If the resurrection of the dead is the hope of Israel, and the Gentile salvation is governed by God’s providential promises to Israel, it is imperative that the resurrection of the dead happens! If there is no resurrection of the dead, those who have died as Christians, which is based on the fulfillment of the Law, are lost! There is no hope! “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men (v.19)”.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep (v.20)”. Thank God, the proof of the hope for those who had fallen asleep in Christ and for the hope of the Believers is assured because Christ has raised from the dead, Him being the first fruits that prove the harvest was near (see, Leviticus 26).

“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead come also through a man (v.21). For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (v.22)”.

The biggest question of all is what death came through Adam? Many have said it was physical death, which there isn’t much of a basis besides mere speculation. What we do have in the Genesis chapters 2-3 account is God telling Adam that in the day he eats of the tree he will surely die (Genesis 2:17) and when he eats of it he feels shame and is cursed and removed from the garden, no longer having access to the tree of live, and eternal life. We know that in Christ we have eternal life and at the consummation of the promises to Israel (judgement and resurrection) we have access to this tree in Revelation 21-22. Did you see anything physical occur there? Neither did I. This text is speaking to Believers, simply because the ALL who die in Adam, are the ALL who are in Christ. Unless, we are to get into the universal view 🙂

“But each in his own turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power (v.23-24)

Well, there we go. Thank God that Christ was the first fruits of the resurrection of the dead, now we have hope in this life, and a faith that is not futile. God has fulfilled his promises to Israel, and therefore the Gentiles are welcomed into this reality. Next installment we will deal with Christ handing over the kingdom, after He destroys all dominion, authority, and power, and best of all DEATH!”.

 

“”Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power” (1 Corinthians 15:24). Ok, so the last couple posts we have been venturing through this text which was written to the Corinthian Church that was full of divisions and had some errors creeping in. We read from the beginning of this chapter that the Apostle Paul is reminding those in Corinth of the gospel which was taught by him and the other apostles. This gospel starts with the importance that “Christ died for our sins according the Scripture (v.3), “he was buried , and raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (v.4), and He appeared to Peter…..and so on. Concluding with the fact that Christ Jesus appeared to Paul, as one abnormally born (v.8).  The Apostle Paul begins to deal with the fact that some among the Church had began to say that there is no resurrection of the dead. Through this Paul begins to explain that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not raised, and if Christ is not raised their faith is in vain and they are still in their sins. Also, those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. Paul begins to illustrate that Christ was the first-fruits of the resurrection, and since death came through a man, Adam, therefore resurrection of the dead will come through a man. “As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (v.22)”. We concluded the last installment with joy that since Christ has been raised from the dead, as the first fruits, there would be a resurrection of the dead.

“….then when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come….” (part of verse 23-24). Didn’t Jesus tell us about His coming and the end? Let’s refer to Matthew chapter 10:1-23, or Matthew 16:24-28, or Matthew 24:29-35, or Luke 21:17-37. Clearly, the end of the age, right? We know what was ending as we can refer to Hebrews 8:13. I always find it interesting how the fulfilled view doesn’t have to hypothesize a million ways why Scripture can’t mean what it says. It’s as clear as day in every resurrection text that the Law of Moses was was brought knowledge of sin ( 1 John 3:4; Romans 6:22-23;Romans 7:7-25 ) and therefore death(Romans 8:6), and the salvation, or what was hoped for was the resurrection of the dead. What dead? Those that are dead under the Law! When the end would come (obviously I would content it has already) Jesus Christ would hand over the kingdom to the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power. According to 1 John 3:8, the purpose of Jesus Christ was to destroy the word of the devil. Did He fail? I think we could all agree that He didn’t and therefore defeated dominion, authority, and power. “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all POWER according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the KINGDOM of light. For he has rescued us from the DOMINION of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:9-14)”. Therefore He must reign until He puts all enemies under His feet (which deals with the subjection of all things under the feet of man in Psalms chapter 8). “The last enemy to be destroyed is death (v.26). I think this is where many miss the boat. What death? In your leisure time read through Romans chapters 5-6, it’s an interesting parallel to the death that came through Adam and the life found in Christ.

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet (Romans 16:20). “Now when it says everything has been put under him, it is clear that it does not include God Himself, who put everything under Christ. When He does this, then the Son himself will be made subject to Him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all (v. 27-28)”. Talk about a good ole Colossians chapter 1:15-23 reference, huh?</p><p> </p><p>As far as verse 29, this verse intimidates me a bit, since it reminds me of the Mormons up the block. Apparently there were some baptisms being done in the hopes of the resurrection. And Paul is arguing that if there is no resurrection of the dead why are people baptized for them. This does make a good case for the fact that those who disbelieved in the resurrection of the dead were believers, therefore reminds me of Sam Frost’s argument that this passage is referencing unbelievers. Continuing on, Paul makes the point that if there is no resurrection of the dead, why are “we” (the apostles) endangering ourselves every hour (v.30). “I die every day-I mean that, brothers- just as surely s I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord (v. 31)”. Yet again another interesting reference to how the apostles were dying to the old way and being renewed by the new way; 2 Corinthians chapter 4). If the dead are not raised all the effort in preaching the gospel is useless (v. 32). To finalize this installment we see Paul encouraging those believers in Corinth to not be misled or corrupted by those who are teaching that there is no resurrection of the dead. This would be important because:</p><p> </p><p>”I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16)”. Simply put, the text continues to illustrate the point that if the hope of Israel (the resurrection of the dead) is not happening or about to happen, then the faith is in vain. The problem being dealt with throughout the entire book of 1 Corinthians, dare I say most of the New Testament, is the divisions of those who felt bound to the Law and those set free, many within the Gentile camp felt superior to those in the faith who felt bound by the Law (which we see dealt with specifically just a couple chapters back in 1 Corinthians chapters 8-10).”

 

“But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (v.35). Let us consider the context thus far. We have people in the church at Corinth who are saying there is no resurrection of the dead (v.12) which was the hope of Israel (Acts chapter 24). The church in Corinth as well many others, began to see the distress of division between the gentiles and Jews. A feeling of Gentile superiority ran rampant, and therefore the resurrection of the dead (the hope of Israel) is being misunderstood, or even denied as we see here. Paul begins to explain the gospel at verse 1 and illustrates that this is the gospel preached according to the Scriptures, the appearance of Jesus Christ starting with Peter, many others and ending with him, Paul, as one abnormally born by God’s grace (v.3-10). This is the message being preached whether you hear it from others or Paul, who was commissioned to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.</p><p> </p><p>Paul explains that if there is no resurrection of the dead then Christ has not been raised (v.13). If Christ has not been raised the preaching of the gospel is useless and so is the faith of those believing in it (v.14). Why? Read Romans 1:16 cf. John chapter 4. If their is no resurrection of the dead, and Christ is not raised as the firstfruits, then the faith of the church is Corinth is futile (v. 17). Christ was resurrected as the firstfruits (sure enough we read of Christ being the resurrection of Israel in Hosea chapter 6), and when Christ comes he will resurrect those who belong to Him (v.23). This will be the end of the age, and kingdom of God will reign (v.24). At this time all his enemies will be destroyed, even death. Sounds alike like bringing us back to the garden, huh? Ok, so now let’s start at verse 35. The term body here is soma which is singular, therefore it is not bodies, but rather with what kind of body do they come. Once again noting there is only ONE body (1 Corinthians 12:27 cf. Ephesians 2:11-22), yet the divisions in the early church were creating confusion. Would we be bound by the Law in the resurrection as the Jews? Would we all be set free? So, Paul goes on to say, “How foolish! What you sow  does not come to life unless it dies. THE GOOD OLE SEED ANALOGY. What body was dying? Maybe read other resurrection texts such as Philippians chapter 3 and 2 Corinthians chapters 3-5. It’s clearly the Old Covenant body that was dying and would resurrect as the New Covenant body in Christ (Hebrews 8:13). “When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body (verses 37-38)”. What kind of body has God given us?  Keep reading!! “All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies: but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another, and the star differs from the star in splendor (v. 39-41)”. Ok, so now that we have clearly illustrated that there is a different splendor, or delight for each body which shows that the natural body of Israel had a splendor of it’s own. Remember what Paul is trying to illustrate to the Corinthian Church. Now watch this. “So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown perishable, is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory, it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body (v.42-44)”. And there you have it. What kind of body did God determine for us- a perishable one, that must die and will be raised imperishable. Interesting parallel to the aging and soon be done away with, or “desolate” (check out Matthew 23:37-38). When I read this I can’t help think of Romans chapter 8, which speaks about how “the creation” will be liberated from it’s groaning, and we know that the Old Covenant people were groaning in their bondage to the law of sin and death. “Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represents two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: “Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband”. Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does the Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son. Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman (Galatians 4:21-31)”.So now that we see through Scripture the “natural body” versus the Spiritual body that is being illustrated. It might be good to point out what exactly “natural” here demonstrates. The Greek word used, Φυσικός[fisikOs], is also used in James 3:5, Jude 19, and 1 Corinthians chapter 2.

“The first man Adam became a living being, the last Adam, a life giving spirit. The Spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the Spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are of those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven (v.45-49).

Interesting link back to verses 21-22. Those under the law of sin and death bore the likeness of the first Adam, the earthly Adam, and therefore “shall bear the likeness of the man from heaven”. Sounds alot like Galatians chapter 4, huh? Christ was set free and so would we be! Hebrews 9:28 is an interesting note to take here. I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable (v.50)”. Yet again interesting parallel, read John chapter 4 concerning being born again. Also, many times throughout the N.T. we see “flesh and blood” being referenced as human weakness or ignorance (Matthew 16:17; Galatians 1:16; Hebrews 2:14).”Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where O death, is your victory? Where O death, is your sting?” (v.51-55)”.”At that hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon. The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever”. And the twenty four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God saying: “We give thanks to you , Lord God Almighty, the One who is and was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great- and for destroying those who destroy the earth”. Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within His temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, pearls of great thunder, and earthquake and great hailstorm (Revelation 11:13-19)”.This citation sounds an awful lot like 1 Corinthians 15:24-28, and then we have the judgement and resurrection of the righteous and wicked. Also, the temple imagery is similar to Galatians 4.

Concerning the perishable putting on the imperishable, let us turn to 2 Corinthians chapter 5:”Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (v.1-5)”.

Now if we were to do an in context study of 2 Corinthians chapters 3-5, it would be clear the shift in covenants is being talked about here. Obviously speaking of the temple made with hands, contrasted to the heavenly temple, or as Galatians chapter 4 would put it- the New Jerusalem from above. Those under the Old Covenant knew the judgement that Jesus Christ had spoken on the temple and that system of things (refer to Matthew chapters 23-24) and therefore it was a hard transition while in the body (Old Covenant body of Adam) while waiting to be clothed with the heavenly dwelling (New Covenant body of Christ).”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (v.56-57)”.That’s the clincher right there. So, as I have demonstrated, or as the Word says, the transition from the perishable to imperishable is speaking about the shift of covenants. In the New Covenant, death is defeated because the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. Oddly enough, this whole chapter is summed up with the exhortation from the apostle Paul:”Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (v.58).This physical resurrection of the body nonsense is thrown out the window by the text. Thanks for joining me as broke down 1 Corinthians chapter 15, which without injecting any concepts into the text is clearly speaking about the transition of covenants, the body of Adam to the body of Christ.”.

 

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2 Thessalonians chapter 2 – A Response to Matthew Henry’s Commentary

In the last issue of Fulfilled Magazine you were offered the opportunity to examine for yourself views that spoke of “moving beyond full preterism” and full preterism being the “Hymenean heresy”. As Brian Martin so rightly said, I feel that Truth has nothing to fear from opposing or differing views. If full preterism is the true, Biblical interpretation of eschatology, then it will prevail against all challenges”.

In this article I desire to show you the “Berean spirit” (Acts 17:11) alive and well in the Full Preterist community. I personally have approached those who speak ill of Full Preterism and asked for “reasons” (1 Peter 3:15) for their view- only to be given apathetic responses and or ostracized for my “critical mind”. In contrast, many times I am offered the opportunity to answer questions which I more than welcome, I encourage it.

Recently, a friend of a member of my congregation offered the commentary of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 as a rebuke of the Full Preterist position. I would like to take some time to respond and deal with the issue that arise from a proper understanding of the text. Here is the link to the commentary offered by Matthew Henry:

http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/2-thessalonians/2.html

2 Thessalonians chapter 2 is an interesting passage for someone to use “against” Full Preterism . Bible teacher Kurt Simmons writes:

“One of the chief eschatological passages of the New Testament is II Thess. 2, which speaks of the “man of sin” whom the Lord would consume at his coming. (II Thess. 2:3, 8) Tradition among primitive Christians identified St. Paul’s “man of sin” with St. John’s “antichrist” and Revelation’s “beast,” many holding that these were references to Nero. In his fourth homily on II Thessalonians, St. Chrysostom (A.D. 347 to 407) states,

“For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work.” He speaks here of Nero… But he did not also wish to point him out plainly: and this not from cowardice, but instructing us not to bring upon ourselves unnecessary enmities, when there is nothing to call for it.”

So what I hope to provide you with in this “response” is information pertaining to the “eschatological confusion” that has been shown in regards to 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, the culture and background of the confusion in different periods of time through church history (especially pertaining to Matthew Henry’s generation), and a contextual understanding of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2- with provided resources.

In his commentary, Matthew Henry notes that the purpose and opening of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 is a refutation of the error regarding the “coming of the Lord”. Apparently, the Thessalonians thought the coming of the Lord had come and gone. That alone should come many to PAUSE.

If the “coming of the Lord” or the 2nd Coming as referred to by many, is this big cataclysmic event which involves stars falling to earth, a physical body of a 1st century Jewish man floating out of the sky on a horse, attended by the resurrection of biological bodies and the planet being destroyed- HOW IN THE WORLD COULD THESE PEOPLE HAVE MISSED IT?!?! This alone should cause many to reexamine their view and position of the “coming of the Lord”.

Matthew Henry lived during the 1700’s. This was a time when “end times interpretation” was greatly influenced by what is called the “Continuous Historical Approach”. This approach finds in the imagery of Revelation a continuous, chronologically sequential panorama of history reaching until the world’s end. The first to use this approach was Nicolas of Lyra (A.D. 1329) in his Postilla. Nicolas of Lyra was a Franciscan who rejected the apocalypticism of his fellow Franciscans. Instead, Nicolas offered a continuous-historical interpretation of Revelation beginning in the first century and reaching to his own time. This approach found its way into what we might call “mainstream though” through the Reformation initiated by Martin Luther, the German reformer. Luther equated his times and struggles with the fight against the Antichrist whom he deemed was the Pope. The continuous-historical method has few modern proponents. Its traditional interpretation equating the beast and harlot with papal Rome has not withstood serious scrutiny; no reputable scholars embrace it today. In some “cultish” crowds such as Ellis Scoffield and 7th Day Adventists one is likely to find these interpretation.

A proper understanding of “interpretation principles” enhances our understanding of the Bible. Many ‘Christians’ are content with a ‘face value’ or a 21st century influenced understanding of the ancient Scriptures which is dismaying to say the least. The ‘Continuous-Historical Approach’ is void of audience relevance, consideration of time statements, and the narrative-context of the Scriptures.

In his commentary, Matthew Henry says:

“From these words it appears that some among the Thessalonians had mistaken the apostle’s meaning, in what he had written in his former epistle about the coming of Christ, by thinking that it was near at hand,—that Christ was just ready to appear and come to judgment….and hereupon the apostle is careful to rectify this mistake, and to prevent the spreading of this error. Observe, If errors and mistakes arise among Christians, we should take the first opportunity to rectify them, and hinder the spreading thereof; and good men will be especially careful to suppress errors that may arise from a mistake of their words and actions, though that which was spoken or done was ever so innocent or well”.

Yes, the Apostle Paul was strongly speaking against “eschatological error” in the church at Thessalonica concerning the “coming of the Lord”. This is a work I have engaged in for the past 2-3 years now and it seems many in the Church want to “lessen” the importance of rectifying this error.

Why does it matter? This chapter of 2 Thessalonians clearly shows us the Apostles thought this was a serious issue and had the potential to distort the gospel (something I believe is being done in many churches across the world today). Therefore in writing this article and reproving errors I endeavor to follow the same logic in which Mr. Henry operated in taking ‘the first opportunity to rectify them”, even if that means showing that Matthew Henry’s interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2 was indeed in error.

Ok..So open up your Bibles to 2 Thessalonians. I urge you before this study to take a minute to read through 2 Thessalonians chapters 1-3, that way you can get the “full force” of the letter the Apostle wrote to the Thessalonians church in A.D. 51-52. Understanding that alone is important and gives credit to the historical reliability of Scripture.

At the beginning of this letter from Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus they are encouraging the Church at Thessalonica through persecution. Notice what is said:

“…in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:4-8)”.

So if this letter was penned in the first century and dropped off at the doorstep of the Thessalonians church which was undergoing persecution and is promising them relief when the “Lord comes”- isn’t it only right to question is the Lord was faithful to this promise and gave them relief? After all, this letter is set forth to clear the confusion and not confuse more- yet the words of Christ Himself to the Apostles alive in that time was that some of them would not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming with His angels on the clouds of heaven to bring judgment (Matthew 16:27-28).

As we move into chapter 2, we now can understand why the Thessalonians would “lose composure” or be disturbed by a message that the coming had already occurred- they were still experiencing persecution- where was this RELIEF?!?!

Speaking about the “gathering together to him” should remind us of Matthew 24:31. In an article in which Dr. Don K. Preston goes in depth about the ‘gathering together’ he writes this:

“An examination of Matthew 24-25 with II Thessalonians 1-2 is especially revealing. In Matthew you have the threat of persecution with the promise of the Parousia for vindication and judgment on the persecutors–the city of Jerusalem. In II Thessalonians 1 you have the church being persecuted, and that persecution is instigated by the Jews, Acts 17. Those being persecuted are promised vindication at the coming of the Lord in fire and vengeance. The Thessalonians were suffering the persecution promised and foreseen by Jesus. Why then is the coming of the Lord in vindication in Thessalonians not the same coming of Jesus in vindication and judgment as that of Matthew 24:29-31?”.

So this gathering would be done after the tribulation which Jesus Christ speaks about in Matthew chapter 24, which a proper historical study can offer is fulfilled through the events of the Roman-Jewish War of AD 70.

“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exhalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)”.

Now I personally believe the proof of this passage being in the past is what I posted above about the “gathering together” which was to occur in AD 70. I believe the saints were “raised up” along with “the dead ones” and brought into the presence of God- which until every jot and tittle of the Law was fulfilled could not happen. However, let’s analyze the 2 things the Apostle Paul lists here that must occur prior to the “coming of the Lord” and the “gathering together”. Could these have happened about 20 years after the Apostle Paul penned the second letter to the Thessalonians?

“APOSTASY COMES”.... Dr. Don K. Preston again weighs in on this and says:

“In Matthew 24:12 Jesus said that in the days prior to his coming in the destruction of Jerusalem, “because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” In the previous verse he warned that false prophets would “mislead many.” In verse 10 he had stated that due to persecution “many will fall away.”

Can you see the comparison? In Matthew 24 the disciples asked when the Lord was going to come. Jesus said before he returned there would be a time when “many will fall away;” false prophets would “mislead many;” and “most people’s love will grow cold.” He then told them he would come after that apostasy but in that generation, vss. 29-34.

In II Thessalonians the brethren were believing the Lord had already come. To correct their chronological error Paul reminded them that before the Lord could come “the apostasy” had to happen.

He was reminding them of the apostasy the Lord himself had said must happen!”.

BUT…who is this MAN OF LAWLESSNESS? 

Clearly from the words of the Apostle Paul this ‘man’ was alive in his time (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8).

Something was holding him back. There seems to be quite the controversy surrounding “he who know retrains” but with proper context I believe it is quite clear who this ‘man’ was.

Dr. Kenneth Gentry, who is NOT A FULL PRETERIST has some good details to share about identifying this man of lawlessness:

“The “man of lawlessness” is Nero Caesar, who also is the beast of Revelation, as a number of Church Fathers believe. This passage’s difficulty lies in the fact that Paul “describes the Man of Sin with a certain reserve” (Origen, Celsus 6:45) for fear of incurring “the charge of calumny for having spoken evil of the Roman emperor” (Augustine, City of God 20:19). Paul and his associates had already suffered at the hands of the Thessalonican Jews for “acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king – Jesus” (Ac 17:7). Wisdom demands discreetness when referring to imperial authority; his recent (1Th 2:17) personal ministry among them allows it: they were to “remember” that while with them he “told [them] these things” (2:5).

Paul clearly implies that something is presently (ca.AD 52) “restraining” (present participle) the man of sin “that he may be revealed in his own time” (2Th 2:6). The man of lawlessness is alive and waiting to be “revealed.” This implies that for the time being, Christians could expect at least some protection from the Roman government: the Roman laws regardingreligio licita  are currently in Christianity’s favor, while it remains a sect of Judaism. This begins to end after the malevolent Nero ascends the throne, for he begins persecuting Christianity in AD 64. Paul certainly enjoys the protection of Roman law (Ac 18:12ff) and makes important use of it in AD 59 (Ac 25:11–12; 28:19), when he seeks protection from the malignancy of the Jews”.

Or as author James Stuart Russel noted:

“But how striking are the indications that point to Nero in the year when this epistle was written, say A.D.52 or 53. At that time Nero was not yet ‘manifested;’ his true character was not discovered; he had not yet succeeded to the Empire. Claudius, his step-father, lived, and stood in the way of the son of Agrippina. But that hindrance was soon removed. In less than a year, probably, after this epistle was received by the Thessalonians, Claudius was ‘taken out of the way,’ a victim to the deadly practice of the infamous Agrippina; her son also, according to Suetonius, being accessory to the deed. But ‘the mystery of lawlessness was already working;’ the influence of Nero must have been powerful in the last days of the wretched Claudius; the very plots were probably being hatched that paved the way for the accession of the son of the murderess. A few months more would witness the advent to the throne of the world of a miscreant whose name is gibbeted in everlasting infamy as the most brutal of tyrants and the vilest of men”.

Bible Teacher Kurt Simmons would be inclined to historically explain that it was Claudius Caesar and the restraining power of the religio licita that kept the man of lawelessness from being revealed. 

Although being consistent with what is called “intellectual honesty” I must admit there are some who agree that this passage was fulfilled in the 1st century yet they would explain the details a bit different. For example, Bible teacher Ed Stevens would offer the high priest as the ‘lawless one”. He explains:

“The Jewish persecutors, the Judaizers, and the Zealots all show that this was fulfilled in the first century. The falling away was in progress as the last few NT books were written. One only needs to read things like the books of Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter and 1-3 John to see this. The falling away coincided with the great persecution and tribulation that descended on the church just before the Jewish revolt (A.D. 63-66). During this persecution James, Peter and others (such as Paul) were killed (A.D. 63). And it was probably about this same time that John was exiled to Patmos. The NT writers during this time of persecution were bravely challenging their fellow-saints to persevere. The faithful remnant did. But many others forsook the “better things” in Christ and returned to Judaism’s things that were “fading away” and about to be destroyed. The “falling away” and “the coming of the man of sin” were first century events. They occurred in connection with the persecution of the church just before the Jewish revolt in A.D. 66. The destruction and defilement of the temple at Jerusalem is explained in great detail by Josephus. While 2 Thess. 2:1-4 is usually associated with “THE” Antichrist, we need to remember that the anti-Christian spirit was already at work in the first century. The Jewish persecution was already underway when Paul wrote these words. The Holy Spirit was restraining its effect until the church reached a mature-enough condition to persevere. There was a close connection indeed between the tribulation and the apostasy. The anti-Christian forces were persecuting the church to get them to fall away.

There are many passages which indicate that the “anti-Christ” was actually the anti-Christian spirit which motivated the Jewish persecutors who worked against the church in the period before AD 70. Notice these passages in particular: 1 Jn. 4:3; cf. 1 Jn. 2:17, 18; and 2 Thess. 2:7. Whatever this “man of lawlessness” was, it was already at work during the time Paul wrote, and was evidently at its worst when John wrote, since he says, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we KNOW it is THE LAST HOUR.” (emphasis mine, ES). And, it is not just preterists who suggest the “man of lawlessness” was something other than an individual. Several of the amillennial and post-millennial theories suggest the same. As far as individual “antichrists” are concerned, some have suggested the various messianic contenders during the war with Rome (John of Gischala, Simon ben Giora, or Eleazar ben Ananias, Eleazar ben Yair — the leader at Masada, or the High Priest). The Judaizers could easily qualify as “antichrists” as well. As I explain in my article elsewhere on this website, I believe the “beast” was Jewish. Whether it was the Jewish Zealots as a group, or individual leader as a figurehead, is not of real big concern to me. If I had to choose an individual who fits all the criteria mentioned here in 2 Thess. 2 and Revelation, I would probably focus on Eleazar ben Yair who resurrected his cause at Masada”.

Sure enough….the “coming of the Lord” occurred when the Romans surrounded the city of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20). This event destroyed the persecutors of the saints (Galatians 4:23-31). The temple was destroyed and it was clear as day as the 1st century historian Josephus noted:

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

The rise of Full Preterism can be quite intimidating to many people who want to hold to certain “traditional” teachings. What needs to be known that within the Full Preterist community there are Christians who seek simply to know, understand, and to be obedient to the teachings of Jesus Christ- ALL THE TEACHINGS. I hope I have shown the ‘intellectual honesty’ in this response to the critics who may utilize Matthew Henry’s commentary and I hope that I have shown Mr. Henry’s thoughts on 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 to be flawed.

The fact remains- the letter of 2 Thessalonians was a first century writing to the Thessalonian church to encourage them to withstand persecution having hope in the “coming of the Lord” which would be judgement upon those who persecuted them. This judgment/ “coming of the Lord” occurred right on time as judgment came upon the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants. Those whom were santified in Christ were ‘gathered to the Lord’ as they heeded His teachings and sure enough as the 1st century historian Josephus accounts- NOT ONE CHRISTIAN DIED IN THE CITY!

 

Reference:

http://www.preteristcentral.com/The%20Road%20Back%20to%20Preterism.html

http://www.preteristarchive.com/Hyper/0000_preston_second-thess.html

http://www.preteristarchive.com/Hyper/0000_preston_how-possible.html

http://torreygazette.com/austinpreterism/2013/07/23/gentry-theology-man-of-lawlessness-identified

http://kloposmasm.com/2009/08/16/pp15-the-man-of-lawlessness-ii-thess-2-part-1/

http://www.preterist.org/preteristQA.asp

 

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Public Response to “Scare-Tactic Review” – STAY AWAY FROM THIS CULT!

Recently someone posted an “attack” on my ministry at The Blue Point Bible Church (http://www.bluepointbiblechurch.org). Upon talking with the Elders I have found it a worthy effort to respond directly to the attack.

Please take note the identity of the person who posted the STAY AWAY FROM THIS CULT “review” has obscured their identity. I stand behind the things I say and teach and am always willing to come to the forefront to defend what I say and teach. Therefore, I ask the same from this ‘attacker’. It surely is a hypocritical effort to accuse someone of being a “cult leader” and the host of other derogatory accusations mentioned in the review and then hide.

Might I assume this could be Christopher Hatton or someone of his ilk? I say that because of the personal nature the ‘attack’ has on the ministry of former Blue Point pastor, Pastor Claire Chandler and the mention of Christopher Hatton.

I would like to first respond to this comment:

” They ousted a godly Pastor named Chris Hatton after he tried for some years to preach the true Gospel of salvation through the grace of God alone”.

I find this rather interesting. Can information pertaining to the ordination of Christopher Hatton be provided, as it seems there has been some confusion in these regards. Mr. Hatton claimed in times past and through his ‘interview’ for the pastorate at Blue Point that he was ordained by the Blue Point Bible Church. This is false. Also, if Pastor Claire Chandler was teaching the doctrine of “Full Preterism” and then retired- how did this “godly pastor” obtain the call to serve at Blue Point Bible Church? I can find no other way other than a dishonesty in regards to being a “Full Preterist”. Before we make attacks- let’s get the facts!

The “attack/review” posted by BiblicalChristian seems to give off the impression of a rather paranoid ministry of Christopher Hatton. Why would “spying” be necessary. Ahh..sometimes the failure to ask the “why’s” and “hows” can lead to rather misleading results.
Now let me speak and defend my ministry as the pastor of The Blue Point Bible Church.

This person attacked the size and nature of our congregation by calling us a “so pathetic and small a congregation”. Interesting… Does size of the congregation determine the truth of the doctrine and the “in Spirit and in Truth” nature of Worship? I don’t think anyone would dare to say so. As a man who loves God, loves His Truth, and loves His Church I cannot even fathom why or how relevant such a comment is. Obviously, this is an attack.

Yes I, Michael Miano, was called to pastor The Blue Point Bible Church as of April 2013. I am grateful for the person who wrote the review posting links for people to listen to my messages- PLEASE DO SO. I dare to say, if you are reading your Bible and willing to be intellectually honest you will find the charge of my teachings being “nonsense” I “spout” to be completely false.

I was rather excited to be called “part of a new breed of militant hyper-preterists”. I am not sure what that means other than my compulsion to teach, preach, and defend the Biblical gospel as I understand it. Take special notice at my inclusion of “defend”. Biblical Christian, are you willing to publicly defend your views? Please identify yourself. This shouldn’t be too much of a hassle since dealing with me and my being “so naively unskilled and unlearned in Orthodox Christianity” is something you mentioned.

I am glad that your posted your review since it brings attention to the attacks many bring upon leaders within Christian who are honestly seeking the Truth. I hope and pray that you might be convicted of your words and my response and not only identify yourself for all to know but also be willing to publically defend some of the things you mentioned.

Upon a willingness to visit the Blue Point Bible Church on a Sunday or for any other activity we offer (ALWAYS WELCOMING VISITORS), I believe those who read this outlandish review can and will see for themselves the TRUTH.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:21 we are exhorted to “prove all things”. Let this serve as my public notice and response to the review posted above in an effort to prove how false these accusations are.

For His Glory,
Pastor Michael Miano

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TRUE FAITH/ FULFILLED HOPE – REVIEW OF CHARLES MEEK’S BOOK

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“Thanks are extended to my futurist friends whose skepticism about COVENANT ESCHATOLOGY made me dig that much deeper to get to the truth. Truth is a glorious thing”. – Charles Meek

I could not have expressed my gratitude any better than Mr. Meek did in the above statement. This blog will serve as my sort of “giving back”, as I hope many of my Futurist friends as well as fellow Preterist brethren will read this blog and Mr. Meek’s book and “see clearly”.

it is an earnest plea because as David Green said in the beginning of Charles Meek’s book – “The last days are approaching- the last days of futurism, that is. Out of the dying and conflicting ism’s of the tradition of futurism is arising the FAITH-CONFIRMING truth of FULL PRETERISM. it’s ascent has been slow, but steady and sure”.

I must say reading the ‘Forward’ to ‘Christian Hope through Fulfilled Eschatology’ was one of the most encouraging things I have read it a while. Packed with what I would call “THE POWER OF PRETERISM”. A must read for sure.

This isn’t necessarily intended to be a “book review”, but I imagine many may care for my thoughts. In writing ‘Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy’, Mr. Meek has provided a humble, simple, and full of answers explanation of Full Preterism. I will admit there were areas that I may “agree to disagree” (as you will see through this blog), but overall the intellectual honestly that was put forth by Mr. Meek was astounding.

So let’s jump right into it….. What do YOU know about the end times? Are you views based on Scripture of maybe what you have been taught? Have you taken the time to examine things for yourself?

This is so important because if you would have talked to me about 6 years ago I had an entirely different view of Scripture, of the “end times” and of the gospel message. I can assure you as I have set out to “prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21)” my faith has been challenged and strengthened. I can truthfully and reasonably tell you my Biblical hope today and know beyond any reasonable doubt that I am standing on a firm foundation. I’ll even debate it!

“The church has utterly failed to present a defense of the truth of the Bible. And when such facts are pointed out to pastors, there is an unending list of excuses to ignore the problem. Speaking especially to pastors, apologetic should be higher on your agenda than your seminary probably taught you it should be!”

Sadly, many Christians have a reluctance to reexamine their views. Many so-called Christians are content with reinforcing erroneous teachings just to “go along with the crowd”. That’s a sad position for a Believer to be in. This is equivalent to the “ecclesiastical tyranny” and “crowd psychology” that Charles Meek mentioned in his book.

The question every Christian must both ask themself and answer is: “Are you ready to listen to what God’s Word teaches?”.
“Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy” starts at a great point- in 1st century Jerusalem. The failure of modern Christians to understand the Scriptures in their historical context has by and large led to a confused gospel message. I have reiterated again and again as I preach before The Blue Point Bible Church (http://www.bluepointbiblechurch.org) that we MUST understand the story of ancient Israel.

As a Preterist many of my Facebook friends have seen my continual harping on the importance of AD 70.

“When Israel ceased to be a nation and the temple was demolished in AD 70, these events fulfilled what Jesus said would happen in His generation (Matthew 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 19;44; Luke 21:6)”. Understanding these events, what is called the Roman-Jewish War, enables us to understand “redemptive history”. Yes, YOUR REDEMPTION!

Many Christians will continually speak about the importance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ but sadly exclude the destruction of the temple in AD 70.

“While the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ ushered in the New Covenant order, it was the destruction of the temple (which ended the system of sacrifices for sin nearly forty years later) that formerly ushered out the Old Covenant order”.

Do you understand the teachings and implication of Full Preterism? If not, there are various websites, articles, sermons that you can go to. A site that I personally run and am developing is http://www.christhascome.org . Another great resource is http://www.thefulfilledconnection.com.

Many Bible teachers and pastors have lost their “ministry opportunities” due to their willingness to be honest with the Bible . Charles Meek rightly says, “God calls us to embrace truth no matter what”. Charles Meek also argues this point:

“This problem is not trivial. Everything we know about Jesus and His teachings comes from the Bible. It is not our prerogative as Christians to ignore the Biblical evidence , and invent a Jesus to suit ourselves. That would be idolatry. We cannot legitamately manufacture our hope from a false set of assumptions; we are limited to understanding Jesus and His teachings as presented in the Bible. Just as importantly, we must not present an unreliable Jesus to the world”.

Recently at THE POWER OF PRETERISM CONFERENCE that was held at The Blue Point Bible Church in Blue Point, New York – Bible teacher Joe Daniels, Apostle Johnny Ova, Dr. Don K. Preston, and myself all made the point that Preterism advances the teachings of Jesus and to say otherwise diminishes the Biblical hope, the reliability of Jesus’ teachings, the Deity of Christ, and the apologetics of Christianity.

Many a times I am asked- ‘Why don’t people plain and simply see the truth of Full Preterism?’. I believe the need for Biblical education in regards to fulfillment is in order. Not only in matters pertaining to eschatological events but instead in regards to Biblical History, Church History, Biblical Hebrew & Greek, Soteriology, Christology, Ministry Leadership, and Life Application/ Discipleship. I endeavor to start a basic style seminary in the near future- Learning Institute of Fulfilled Eschatology (L.I.F.E.) with a creative focus on development, reformation and networking.

Charles Meeks provides an introduction in hemeneutics in Chapter 2 of his book.

“We have built doctrines by picking and choosing the passages that fit our ideas and have ignored those passages that challenge us. We are really not interested in truth if it upsets our applecart. This has led to a shallow, lazy, distorted, and divisive Christianity”.

Mr. Meek is speaking in reference to “our extra Biblical presuppositions”, examining “wooden literalism” with a game of “twenty questions”, and provides an explanation of Principles of Biblical Interpretation.

Rene Deschartes, French philosopher and writer once said:
“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things”.

Are you willing to be your ‘end times views’ under the microscope? Could you be wrong in your understanding? In chapter 3 of his book, Charles Meek provides an explanation of Different Views. Speaking about Futurism ( and the variety ofpremillennial, amilleniam, and postmillennial views), Historicism, idealism, preterism (and its’ underlying distinctions of premillenial and post millenial preterism.)

In examining what the Bible ACTUALLY SAYS about the “time of the end” one will realize:
“Eschatology is not about the end of the “world”, but rather its a rebirth instituted by Jesus in the New Covenant order”.
It is the Preterist View that:

“We are of the studied opinion that the “Second Coming” of Christ was not to be a physical body appearance on earth, but rather a coming in judgment against the unbelieving Jews who perverted God’s commandments and rejected Jesus and His Church”.
Also the point could be proven that, “…many Christians also think that the tribulation will be a global event. But notice that Jesus said that one could avoid the tribulation by fleeing to the mountains (Luke 21:21)”.

Many ‘Christians’ have misunderstood the phraseology and idiomatic expresses used by Jesus and those writing in the first century. For example, Charles Meek accounts:

“Peter’s prophecy in 2 Peter 3 was a reiteration of Isaiah 24. In that chapter, Isaiah spoke of a time when the sun and the moon (the heavens) would be confounded and ashamed (Isaiah 24:23) and when the earth would be burnded, broken down, dissolved, and would fade away (Isaiah 24:4-6, 19-20). Isaiah was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem (Isaiah 24:12)”.

Sadly many within the Church have clung to a neo-Gnostic understanding of what the gospel message is about (mislabeling the ‘elements’ coming under judgment- Romans chapter 8 & 2 Peter 3:10). Quite frankly the message is about freedom from the Old Covenant- described as “the law of sin and death (Romans chapter 8). Understanding this freedom by reading through Galatians chapters 3-5 and Colossians chapter 2.

A great read concerning the confusion regarding the transition of Covenants and ‘the Coming of the Lord” is ‘Behind the Veil of Moses’ by Brian Martin. In the book, Mr. Martin makes a great case for the fact that the confusion regarding the “2nd Coming” of Christ is equivalent to the confusion regarding the first coming. The Jews rejected Christ’s coming because He did not come according to their expectations, the same with John the Baptist as “the Elijah to come”.

“2 Kings 2:11-12 relates the manner in which Elijah went up into heaven. He ascended on a chariot of fire. The Jews thought that Elijah might well return to earth in exactly the same manner that he ascended on a chariot of fire. But in Matthew 11:13-15; Matthew 17:10-13; and Mark 9:11-13 Jesus identifies John the Baptist as the expected Elijah!”

Sadly today many will provide gimmicks, gaps, and so forth to defend their erroneous views. In his book, Charles Meek deals with the way those who adhere to “partial fulfillment” – “divide the text”, “pick and choose”, fabricate a foreign concept of “types and shadows”, “separate questions”, and completely avoid “audience relevance”.

“It is impossible to read the Olivet Discourse and fail to perceive its distinct reference to the period of our Lord’s crucifixion and the destruction of Jerusalem. Every word is spoken to the disciples, and to them alone. To imagine that the “you” in this address applies, not to the disciples to whom Christ was speaking, but to some unknown and yet non-existent persons in a far distant age, is so preposterous a supposition as to not deserve serious notice”.

With that in mind…Go and read Matthew 16:25-28. What does the text imply? Do you believe in the words of Jesus Christ?
The humility expressed through Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy is astounding. Mr. Meek provides information on the millennium, the new heavens and new earth, resurrection, among other things.

I did have a question about this statement since it seems that Mr. Meek adds a ‘futuristic idea’ that is not present throughout Scripture:
“Jerusalem was judged in the first century for her historic crimes (See, Matthew chapter 23). There is no reason to believe she (harlot Jerusalem) will never be judged again for those crimes”.

Also, many critics of Full Preterism constantly refer to “the resurrection of the dead” and ask for a “better explanation” than that which is being given. This has been done again and again by many leaders within Full Preterism. I would refer people to read through Dr. Don K. Preston’s stuff…. also, soon enough I will have the video files from THE POWER OF PRETERISM CONFERENCE wherein Dr.

Preston presented an awesome teaching regarding the resurrection.
“Futurists often argue that because Christ rose physically, so must we. That notion is as false as saying that because Christ was literally crucified, we must also be literally crucified (Galatians 2:20) in order to have eternal life”.

The proper understanding of “…resurrection is recovery of relational death between man and God that stood since the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:7, 15; 2 Corinthians 5:1-3)”.

I did notice that Mr. Meek put “bodies” in plural form in many places that I would advocate a necessary ‘corporate’ understanding. Within Full Preterism there is the CBV (Corporate Body View) and IBD (Individual Body at Death view) debate and I have failed to see a proper explanation of IBD. It seems that Mr. Meek advocates a merger of sorts that I have in the past spoke about with other leaders within Full Preterism. Honestly, I don’t see it. Mr. Meek mentioned you can find this individual body reference throughout Scripture. Please provide.

Recently, I was involved in a public debate regarding the difference between a future second coming of Jesus and Preterism. You can view that here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNXL-4nl3zs

During that debate, Pastor Bruce Bennett seemed to be quite obsessed with the physical body of Jesus. Mr. Meek provides a simple explanation:

“At some point Christ must have changed- probably at the ascension. After His ascension, Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus in a manner that Paul could see a light and hear the voice of Jesus , but neither he nor his companions actually saw Jesus in physical form (Acts 9:3-9; Acts 22:6-11; Acts 26:12-19 cf. John 17:5; Hebrews 5:7)”.

Also, another area that I have been pretty passionate about that Mr. Meek mentioned was:

“There is evidence that the concept of the immortality of the soul, as understood by many Christians, my be more from Greek thought than from the Bible”.

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To me it’s rather simple. In John 3:16, “eternal life” is offered to those who believe in Jesus Christ in contrast to “perish” not some odd view of eternal torment. This postulates the view of Conditional Immortality. Think about it….if someone dies and goes to hell for eternity- doesn’t that mean they are living eternally in hell?

“Some Christian scholars are convinced from a comprehensive analysis of the Bible that hell is not, in fact, a place of eternal conscious punishment as is the standard view. Gehenna, the Greek word rendered ‘hell’ in English, was an actual place outside of Jerusalem where waste was deposited and burned. So, some argue that Jesus used gehenna/hell as a metaphor for the total destruction of annihilation of the damned, rather than a place of eternal conscious punishment”.

I debated this topic in October 2013, you can view it here http://vimeo.com/88656535. (Sorry the sound quality isn’t all that great). You can read more about this by visiting the following link:
http://www.rethinkinghell.com/

Another issue that I have dealt with in debate and Mr. Meek brings up in his book is understanding the “old order” and all it’s “tears, mourning, and death” characteristics and how ATONEMENT was understood by those under that ‘order’. Here are some details from his book:

“Jesus appeared at His First Advent to put away/ remove sin (Hebrews 9:26 cf. Daniel 9:24-27; Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; Acts 5:31; Romans 6:1-14; Colossians 1:22; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 3:5; Revelation 1:5), and to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). DID JESUS FAIL?”.

“Concerning death, the Bible says that Jesus destroyed/ abolished death (2 Timothy 1:10 cf. Romans 6:23; Hebrews 2:14-15). DID HE FAIL?”

So I ask, “How much you your expectation of restoration is based on assumption or wishful thinking, rather than Scripture?”

HOW HAVE WE GOTTEN TO THIS POINT?

WHY HAS THE CHURCH FAILED TO CORRECT THIS ERROR?

“We can track the various eschatological views down through the ages; unlike other doctrinal issues we see no formal discussions of eschatology within the Church”.

“Preterists are at the forefront today of the call for a serious and open debate on the Biblical “last things”.

So, I imagine if you have read this far you now realize that you must examine this thing called FULL PRETERISM. Heed the words of St. Augustine:

“If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel that you believe, but yourself”.

Before you go over to http://www.ChristHASCome.org, here are some basic details about Full Preterism.

“We strongly suggest that any eschatology that denies a plain literal interpretation of the New Testament time-texts, has adopted an overly elastic and, frankly, unscriptural position that damages the Bible’s integrity”.

“The good news is that the days are over for even brilliant scholars to to easily escape legitamate challenges; the pace of modern communications is turning the tide toward truly open debate. The resultis the SURGING PRETERIST CHALLENGE TO ESCHATOLOGY”.

“Covenant eschatology solidifies our understanding of the gospel and unifies the message of Scripture. The preterist view reveals the immensity of Christ’s victory”.

“And while it is the minority view in the Church today, it seems to be the fastest growing view”.

“…preterist eschatology is optimistic, beautifully consistent, and faithful to Scripture”.

I love the words of Edward Hassert here:

“Preterism is a theology that can bring answers for those who are sick, dying, struggling with faith, oppressed, addicted , and even living in sin. In fact preterism provides the only real answer to these problems since it is the only theology that addresses the whole of Scripture, believing the Word of God for what it actually says instead of for what men have claimed it has said in the past…True faith is realizing the fulfilled hope we have to live in today, in this moment, instead of some escape clause for the future”.

I end on this note. Let is be said, as Soren Kierkegaard once said:

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true”

I can promise you that when you consider the Biblical evidence for the truth of Full Preterism with ‘intellectual honesty’, you will see that the belief in a yet future ‘second coming’ of Jesus is a serious error and makes as much sense as saying- “Don’t confuse me with the facts”.

“The modern church is an embarrasment to Biblical Christianity, and is too often a stumbling block to seekers. These things must change, and perhaps are beginning to change. We sense that young people especially, at least those that have not left the church for good and still give a whit, are fed up with questionable doctrines and practices in the church”.

Let us pray,

“Who has a heart hardened by biases and preconceptions, Lord? Is it I? Show me the blind spot in my own eye, Lord! Give me the fortitude to deal with error that I might hold. Give me a passion for Biblical Truth. May I not be satisfied with the status quo. And give me the courage to speak up, even among my peers”. Amen.

Blessings in and through Jesus Christ,
Pastor Michael Miano

The Blue Point Bible Church (http://www.bluepointbiblechurch.org

Get your copy of ‘Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy’ at:
http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Hope-through-Fulfilled-Prophecy/dp/0615705901/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370636529&sr=8-1&keywords=christian+hope+through+fulfilled+prophecy

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DANCING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS: Bonhoeffer Files

I have recently finished reading through Eric Metaxas biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and have preached an entire series to celebrate his birthday for the month of February. The podcasted sermons can be found at this link:

http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630 

I have said it again and again that I believe Dietrich Bonhoeffer to be an excellent example of a well-lived Christian life, therefore I am taking this opportunity to share what I have learned about him through this rather lengthy blog.

“…He grew up in a family that believed the essence of learning lay not in a formal education but in a deeply rooted obligation to be guardians of a great historical heritage”. – Eberhard Bethke

Imagine if Christians truly started to understanding “the essence of learning” in that manner. It is not about obtaining knowledge, but about living out the heritage and being “guardians” of the truth contained in the gospel, and what we as kingdom ambassadors know through Jesus Christ…. ahh just imagine. I believe we are living on the threshold of this realization in the Church. It’s high time we begin taking this seriously.

In was said that in Bonhoeffer’s family, “Each had his special trait, but common to them all was an idealistic streak, with a fearless readiness to act on their convictions”.

As G.K. Beale noted about Bonhoeffer:

“He was crystal clear in his convictions; and young as he was, and humble-minded as he was, he saw the truth, and spoke it with a complete absence of fear”.

Reading through Metaxas biography was enlightening to say the least. I have the opportunity to learn about Bonhoeffer’s family life, which clearly led to many of his convictions regarding truth. Bonhoeffer’s father was devoted to Empirical Science, which builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. It would be the contention of Bonhoeffer that: “The validity of Christianity lies within the realm of rational inquiry”. I am inclined to agree. Below are some links to help you understand an Empiricist way of looking at Christianity.

http://faculty.som.yale.edu/jameschoi/whychrist-empiric.html

http://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2012/04/christianity-knowledge-and-empiricism/

Many who know me personally can attest to my contant plea for Christians to truly understand, teach, and preach a TRUE AND REASONABLE GOSPEL. As Bonhoeffer said:

“One must consider every possibility and avoid predisposing oneself to where it would all lead. During his lifetime, Bonhoeffer brought this critical and “scientific” attitude to all questions of faith and theology”.

In the Bonhoeffer home it was said that there was no place for “false piety” or “any kind of bogus religiousity”, and those are direct statements from his sister Sabine. The rising generation of Christians can surely find appreciation for that. We call that “being real”.

Bonhoeffer knew we must find God and not allow our presuppositions create an “idol god” of our own. As goes the cliche saying, “God created man in his image, and man returned the favor”. No instead as Bonhoeffer rightly notes:

If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature. But if God determines where he is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not immediately pleasing to my nature and which is not at all congenial to me”.

I totally love the fact that Bonhoeffer saw the need for theology to leak into the practical aspects of living as a Christian. Our understanding of God and His kingdom should place us in a sort of “holy rebellion” to this world. Dietrich Bonhoeffer would have called this a “religion-less Christianity” which compared and contrasted “cheap grace” and “costly grace”.

Again Bonhoeffer’s upbringing would have led him to understand this in this fashion because he was raised to not only live out his convictions but to also think before you speak, aswell as the self-deception of being led by emotions. Sadly, many who refer to themselves as “Christians” today, have adopted an emotional attraction to to a gospel they have made up.

For example, recently I was listening to a Christian rap song by Andy Mineo called “Where the Wild Things Are” and he quotes this:

“When I talk about Jesus, all the Christians love me. But if I try to walk like Jesus, all the Christians judge me”.

The “secularization of Christianity” (something Bonhoeffer continually spoke out against) had led many to create a sort of ‘moralistic deism” and call it Christianity. What I mean by “moralistic deism” is that Christianity is all about rules and regulations on how to live your life with a spinkle of belief in God. That IS NOT CHRISTIANITY.

“Christianity is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will. The essence of chastity is not the suppression of lust, but the total orientation of one’s life towards a goal. Without such a goal, chastity is bound to become ridiculous”. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This is so important because another aspect of Christianity that Bonhoeffer was so passionate about was the fact that it must be made real to the man in the street.

So Christian, I now ask you….. Are you walking worthy? Please take this admonishment and example given to us through the life of Christ seriously.

Even my asking you this question is in the fashion of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who made the point that we need more Christians who are willing to do “suprise visits” and ask other brothers and sisters in the faith- “How goes it with your soul?”.

As Bonhoeffer was arrested he took his Bible with him. This reminded me of my recent agreement to “treat my Bible like my cellphone”. In other words just as I would make sure I have my cellphone on me at all times, I will do the same with my Bible- no matter where I go (anywhere I would naturally bring my cellphone).

FAST FACT: Did you know Martin Luther introduced the idea of Congregational singing?

Congregational singing had been halted since the close of the fourth century, when the church leaders decreed: “If laymen are not to interpret the Scriptures for themselves, so they are not to sing the songs of the church”. Martin Luther declared, “Let God speak directly to His people through the Scriptures, and let His people respond with grateful songs of praise”.

You can read more about this by visiting the following link:

http://ctl.cedarville.edu/musicology/wordpress/?p=62

“It wasn’t until 1920, when Dietrich turned fourteen, that he was ready to tell anyone he had decided to become a theologian”.

In Bonhoeffer’s time, much like the time we are living in, the Church seemed weak, oppressive, and more like a business than ‘the light of the world’, but when God calls men like Bonhoeffer, He leads them to say:

“In that case, I shall have to reform it”.

Bonhoeffer understood:

Revival of church life always brings in its train a richer understanding of the Scriptures”.

The real trouble is that the pure Word of Jesus has been overlaid with so much human ballast- burdensome rules and regulations, false hopes and consolations- that it has become extremely difficult to make a genuine decision for Christ”.

As a Christian, the health of the ‘body of Christ’ stays at the forefront of my mind, therefore I fully recieve this admonishment that Bonhoeffer gave to himself as my own:

Paul writes that he thinks of his congregation “without ceasing” in his prayers and yet at the same time he devoted himself completely to the task at hand. I must learn to do that. It will probably only come with prayer. God, grant me in the next few weeks clarity about my future and keep me in the communion of prayer with the brethren”.

It cannot be reiterated enough the need for us to ask ourselves, WHAT IS THE CHURCH? This is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer sought to explain in his writings, Sanctorum Communio & Act and Being. Both of which I look forward to reading myself fairly soon.

Due to the apathy that was alive and well in the church in Bonhoeffer’s time, he helped initiate the rise of what was called THE CONFESSING CHURCH. You can learn more of the details of that by visiting the following link:

https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/confessing-church

Bonhoeffer knew it was important that the Church was exhibited as “Christ existing as church-community”. He would go on to say,

“The body of Christ is the spiritual temple built out of living stones (1 Peter 2:5). Christ is its sole foundation and cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 3:11) but at the same time He is in His person the temple (Ephesians 2:21), in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, replenishing and sactifying the hearts of the faithful (1 Corinthians 3:10; 6:19). The Temple of God is the holy people in Jesus Christ. The body of Christ is the living temple of God and the new humanity”.

Since the ascension, Christ’s place on earth has been His body, the Church. The Church is the real presence of Christ. Once we have realized this truth we are well on the way to recovering an aspect of the Church’s being which has been sadly neglected in the past. We should think of the Church not as an institution but as a person, through of course a person in a unique sense”.

One student of Bonhoeffer’s noted that:

He pointed out that nowadays we often ask ourselves whether we still need the Church, whether we still need God. But this question, he said, is wrong. We are the ones who are questioned. The Church exists and God exists, and we are asked whether we are willing to be of service, for God needs us”.

The Church is called to stand with those who suffer”. We read in Galatians 6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”.

It is high time we broke with our theologically based restraint towards the state’s actions- which after all, is only fear. “Speak out for those who cannot speak”. Who in the church today realizes that this is the very least that the Bible requires of us”. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Here is how Bonhoeffer saw CHURCH REFORM:

“I think I am right in saying that I would only achieve true inner clarity and honesty by really starting to take the Sermon on the Mount seriously. Here alone lies the force that can blow all this idiocy sky-high- like fireworks, leaving only a few burnt-out shells behind. The restoration of the church must surely depend on a new kind of monasticism, which has nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising discipleship, following Christ according to the Sermon on the Mount”.

In regard to living out the necessary reforms in the body of Christ, “he knew that to act freely could mean inadvertently doing wrong and incurring guilt. In fact, he felt that living this way meant that is was impossible to avoid incurring guilt, but if one wished to live responsibly and fully, one would be willing to do so”.

I call this “living lightly”. I seek to live out the teachings of Jesus Christ by conviction therefore ‘free from condemnation’, yet I just live, I don’t focus on not sinner. If indeed during my efforts to glorify God, I offend, then repentance is necessary.

Yet again in regards to CHURCH REFORM. Bonhoeffer would have it stated that one church could have differences with another church, but engage in dialogue for further mutual understanding. This is what we NEED in the body of Christ today. I am actually in the middle of writing up a letter/ document to give local leadership in my region to further stimulate mutual edification and understanding among churches in our area.

I plead with my brothers and sisters in the faith to begin the “leg work” of reform because ideas and beliefs are nothing if they do not relate to the world of reality outside of one’s own mind.

As I learn from Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a pastor, I desire to preach sermons that stimulate the congregation both Spiritually and intellectually. It’s said that His style as a lecturer was “very concentrated, quite unsentimental, almost disspassionate, clear as crystal, with a certain rational coldness, like a reporter”. It was this combination of an adamantine faith with a logician’s sparkling intellect that was so compelling”.

“A truly evangelical sermon must be like offering a child a fine red apple or offering a thirsty man a cool glass of water and then saying: Do you want it?”. -Bonhoeffer

It was Ruth von Kleist-Retzow who said the following statement about Bonhoeffer:

“When you saw him (Bonhoeffer) preaching you saw a young man who was entirely in God’s grasp”.

Bonhoeffer’s notice for the necessity of the Psalms being alive and well in the Church is interesting and an understanding I desire to come close to. Bonhoeffer said:

“The Psalter filled the life of early Christians. But more important than this is that Jesus died on the cross with words from the Psalms on His lips. Whenever the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure is lost to the Christian church. With its recovery will come unexpected power”.

A prominent Preterist writer, David Chilton has noted:

There is a very important connection between the Church’s worldview and the Church’s hymns. If your heart and mouth are filled with songs of victory, you will tend to have an eschatology of dominion; if, instead, your songs are fearful, expressing a longing for escape-or if they are weak, childish ditties-your worldview and expectations will be escapist and childish. Historically, the basic hymnbook for the Church has been the Book of Psalms. The largest book of the Bible is the Book of Psalms, and God providentially placed it right in the middle of the Bible, so that we couldn’t miss it! Yet how many churches use the Psalms in musical worship? It is noteworthy that the Church’s abandonment of dominion eschatology coincided with the Church’s abandonment of the Psalms.”

WE MUST OFFER “INCARNATIONAL MINISTRY”.

The following link is a good “primer” on what exactly ‘incarnational ministry’ is:

http://www.releasetheape.com/two-blocks-to-incarnational-ministry/

It’s important that we recognize the truth in what Bonhoeffer has said:

“In Jesus Christ the reality of God has entered into the reality of this world”.

We are the ‘body’ of Christ in this world. We are His hands and feet. His work is done through us. When ‘the many’ want a physical form of Jesus- we offer them the Church. It is our duty to show the world what ‘life in Christ’ means. We are resurrecting the world to life in Christ.

When the Bible speaks of following Jesus, it is proclaiming a discipleship which will liberate mankind from all man-made dogmas, from every burden and oppression, from every anxiety and torture which afflicts the conscience. If they follow Jesus, men escape from the hard yoke of their own laws, and submit to the kindly yoke of Jesus Christ”.

“And if we answer the call to discipleship, where will it lead us? What decisions and partings will it demand? To answer this question we shall have to go to Him, for only He knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us to follow Him, knows the journeys end. But we do know it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy”.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3)”.

MEN’S GROUP

Recently, forming a sort of “men’s group” had been on my mind. The conviction of making this happen was enhanced when I read that Bonhoeffer led a discussion group of young men which covered many topics called The Thursday Circle.

I think a good platform has been created through The Good Men Project (goodmenproject.com).

It was no aimless gabfest, but a controlled, serious exploration of questions. It consisted of “pure, abstract theorizing, in the attempt to grasp a problem in its fullness”.

A good start would be learning from inspiring men that have blazed these trails before us. Men like Karl Barth who had a great take on “dead religion”.

How about Martin Niemoller who famously said: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out- because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out- because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out- because I was not a Jew. And then they came for me- and there was no one left to speak for me”.

Or Fabian von Schlabrendorff who wrote, ‘They Almost Killed Hitler’ & ‘I Knew Dietrich Bonhoeffer’.

I love the example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer though. It was said that he lived a full-life. He continually attended operas, movies, concerts, art exhibits, plays, spent alot of time with friendsfamilycolleagues, and was constantly traveling. He had a complete disregard for idle nonsense that fills most of our days. Bonhoeffer knew the importance of meeting all kinda of people:

“…here I meet people as they are, far from the masquerade of ‘the Christian world”, people with passions, criminal types, small people with small aims, small wages, and small sins- all in all they are people who feel homeless in both senses, and who begin to thaw when one speaks to them with kindness- real people, I can only say that i have gained the impression that it is just these people who are much more under grace than under wrath, and that it is the Christian world which is more under wrath than grace”.

Again that reminds me of a quote by the Christian rapper, Andy Mineo when he said:

I’ve chosen this lifestyle, you ever met my friends? Porn stars, dope dealers, they like, “Why you chill with them? I thought you was a Christian?” Yeah I’m on that team, but I’m with them cause my life’s the only bible that they’ve ever seen”.

Convicting, isn’t it?

Eric Metaxas notes that “Bonhoeffer strove to see what God wanted to show and then to do what God asked in response. That was the obedient Christian life, the call of a disciple. And it came with a cost, which explained why so many were so afraid to open their eyes in the first place. It was the antithesis of the “cheap grace” that required nothing more than an easy mental assent, which he wrote about in the Cost of Discipleship”. One of Bonhoeffer’s students speaking about Bonhoeffer said that he was truly“a man who believes in what he thinks and does what he believes in”.

While Bonhoeffer surely advocated “death to self”, he did not shun “earthly pleasure”. Instead as Metaxas noted in his book, “the “desire for earthly bliss” is not something we steal from behind God’s back, but is something that He has desired that we should desire”. I think John Piper in regards to “Christian Hedonism” said it quite well:

“God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him”.

“The religion of Christ is not a tidbit after one’s bread, on the contrary, it is the bread or it is nothing. People should atleast understand and concede this if they call themselves Christian”.

Is it understandable yet why this man is such a great example to follow?

I am starting a new idea called 3rd Sunday lectures this month. My motivation comes from Bonhoeffer taking intitiative to give lectures at another time besides Sundays, which I believe is important.

Why? Well, let’s consider Bonhoeffer’s remarks about New York:

“In New York they preach about virtually everything, only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin, and forgiveness, death and life”

“There is no theology here…They become intoxicated with liberal and humanistic phrases, laugh at the fundamentalists, and yet are not even up to their level”.

They seemed to know what the answer was supposed to be and weren’t much concerned with how to get there. They knew only that whatever answer the fundamentalists came up with must be wrong”.

Even going as far as saying, “Tomorrow is Sunday. I wonder if I shall hear a sermon”. He noted that what he heard from the pulpit was a “very forced application of the text” and “too much analysis, too little gospel”.

All of that being said, it is high time we have plenty of the gospel being preached in New York, amen? As a pastor, I don’t believe I can “preach too much”, plus Ms. Vicki Chua, an amazing woman of God in my congregation recently brought up the idea and reading about Bonhoeffer doing so just convinced me that such an idea is “of God”.

I am also inspired to start an apprenticeship. This will be modeled after the illegal seminary that Bonhoeffer ran. Shh…it’s illegal 🙂

The first and foremost requirement will be to understand that “When Christ calls a man, He bids him- come and die”. We will foster understanding this by requiring that every student read ‘The Cost of Discipleship’.

Many Christians question their calling. My usual advice is to take a “five fold survey” as a beginning step. Bonhoeffer notes:

But how is the disciple to know what kind of cross is meant for him? He will find out as soon as he begins to follow his Lord and share his life”.

This is all demonstrated through“life together” .

‘Living together day by day produces a strong spirit of comradeship, of mutual readiness to help. The thousandfold “hullo” which sounds through the corridors of the hostel in the course of the day and which is not omitted even when someone is rushing past is not as meaningless as one might suppose…No one remains alone in the dormitory. The unreservedness of life together makes one person open to another, in the conflict between determination for truth with all of its consequences and the will for community, the latter prevails..”.

The entire education of the younger generation of theologians belongs today in church cloister-like schools, in which pure doctrine, the Sermon on the Mount and worship are taken seriously- as they never are (and in present circumstances couldn’t be) at the university”.

L.I.F.E. – Learning Institute of Fulfilled Eschatology/ Living In the Fulfilled Eschaton

I think I am right in saying that I would only achieve true inner clarity and honesty by really starting to take the Sermon on the Mount seriously. Here alone lies the force that can blow all this idiocy sky-high- like fireworks, leaving only a few burnt-out shells behind. The restoration of the church must surely depend on a new kind of monasticism, which has nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising discipleship, following Christ according to the Sermon on the Mount”.

I had the opportunity of visiting Reba Place Fellowship located in Evanston, Ill. It was such a blessing to experience “intentional community” in that fashion, and I aspire to see it all the more in the future.

Here on the outer fringe of the Church was a place where the older vision was kept alive. Here men still remembered that grace costs, that grace means following Christ….Thus monasticism became a living protest against the secularization of Christianity and the cheapening of grace”.

I remember a while back reading through Church History and being in awe of the seeming structure that the ‘body of Christ’ had and wondered where it went. Through this understanding of a “new monasticism” I see a sort of structure returning to the body of Christ.

Confirmands today are like young soldiers marching to war, the war of Jesus Christ against the gods of this world. It is a war that demands the comittment of one’s whole life. Is not God, our Lord, worthy of this struggle? Idolatry and cowardice confront us on all sides, but the direst foe not confront us, he is within us. ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief”.

Theological work and real pastoral fellowship can only grow in a life which is governed by gathering around the Word morning and evening and by fixed times of prayer”.

Hey, that’s Bonhoeffer’s advice. Maybe, I need to more firmly advocate “fixed times of prayer”? There sure is power in knowing that your brother or sister is reading through Scripture and/or praying at the same time as you.

I have endeavored to create a daily routine that will be for me and any visiting guests. I will pretty much open my home for anyone who would want to experience a “life in fellowship” in this manner. This is modeled after the way Bonhoeffer’s community was organized:

Morning Prayer: “O God, early in the morning do I cry unto thee. Help me to pray, and to think only of thee. I cannot pray alone. In me there is darkness, but with thee there is light. I am lonely, but thou leavest me not. I am feeble in heart, but thou leavest me not. I am restless, but with thee there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with thee there is patience, thy ways are past understanding, but thou knowest the way for me”. – Bonhoeffer

-Forty-five minute service before breakfast, and ended with a service just before bed

Bonhoeffer requested us not to say a single word to each other before the (morning) service. The first word to come was supposed to be God’s Word”. – student, Albrecht Schoner

These services did not take place in a chapel, but instead each man gathered humbly around a dining room table.

Then came breakfast, which was very modest. Then came half an hour of meditation. Then everybody went to his room and thought about the Scripture until he knew what it meant for him today, on that day. During that time there had to be absolute quite…we were suppose to concentrate completely on whatever it was that God had to say to us”.

One meditated on the same verse for an entire week, a half hour each day.

Prayed the Psalms everyday

Confession to one another…Luther’s idea that Christians should confess to one another..

Afternoons set aside for recreation or whatever one might want to do.

After dinner and recreation, around 10pm, there was another service of 3/4 of an hour, “as the last note of a day with God. After that, silence and sleep. That was how the day went”.

SPEAKING ABOUT DEATH

As I was reading through Eric Metaxas book, I had the unfortunate circumstance of losing a friend. As I contemplated what the right things to think and say were I found these inspiring words of Bonhoeffer:

“Where God tears great gaps we should not try to fill them with human words. They should remain open”.

“Who can comprehend how those whom God takes so early are chosen? Does not the early death of Christians always appear to us as if God were plundering his own best instruments in a time in which they are most needed? Yet the Lord makes no mistakes. Might God need our brothers for some hidden service on our behalf in the heavenly world? We should put an end to our human thoughts, which always wish to know more than they can, and cling to that which is certain. Whomever God calls home is someone God loved. “For their souls were pleasing to the Lord, therefore He took them quickly from the midist of wickedness (Wisdom of Solomon 4)”.

After reading that last quote, I thought that Enoch and Elijah should immediately come to mind. John Bray wrote an awesome article about the “catching away” of these men of God, and I would encourage all to read it. Link:

http://www.worldwithoutend.info/wwe321wp/were-elijah-and-enoch-raptured-to-haven-evangelist-john-l-bray/

I have determined that I must watch the film “All Quiet on the Western Front”. It’s been said that “…it was the movie more than the book that would change Bonhoeffer’s life”.

The major issue in the Church during Bonhoeffer’s time is what I will call a “Misplaced Nationailism” On the Sunday before President’s Day, I preached a sermon in light of what Bonhoeffer would have taught about this topic. You can listen to that sermon by clicking on the following link:

http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/150930-misplaced-nationalism-bonhoeffer-series

The church has only one altar, the altar of the Almighty…before which all creatures must kneel. Whoever seeks something other than this must keep away, he cannot join us in the house of God…The church has only one pulpit, and from that pulpit, faith in God will be preached, and no other faith, and no other will than the will of God, however well intentioned”. – Bonhoeffer

This example from history should be a strong admonishment for Christians to “study to show thyself approved, rightly dividing the Word of Truth” or “Search the Scriptures”, since it clearly shows the danger of a false faith, a false assurance, and a false hope.

Lacking Biblical context, the German Christians – “preached Christianity as the polar opposite of Judaism, Jesus as the arch anti-Semite, and the cross as the symbol of the war against the Jews’.

In 1937, a group of them stated that the written word of Scripture was the problem. “Whereas the Jews were the first to write out their faith”, they said, “Jesus never did so”. They even forced an understanding that A demon always resides in the written word”.

Astonishing, isn’t it? How can one completely ignore what the Bible says yet still pass that off a Christianity? Sadly because many ‘Christians’ are content not knowing anything about Scripture or having any contextual understanding. I am so glad that there is a rising tide happening within Christian scholarship regarding understanding the Jewish context of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.

Now that this has turned into a short novel, I want to end with some strong admonshments regarding living the Christian life. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s sister once said this to him, “You Christians are glad when someone else does what you know must be done but it seems that somehow you are unwilling to get your own hands dirty and do it”.

I can only imagine the dilemma that was ever present for men and women of God during the Third Reich. I am sure glad that “a major theme for Bonhoeffer was that every Christian must be “fully human” by bringing God into his whole life, not merely into some “spiritual” realm. To be an ethereal figure who merely talked who merely talked about God, but somehow refused to get his hands dirty in the real world in which God had placed him, was bad theology”.

Bonhoeffer knew it was required that he as a Christian- suffer faithfully”. It is fitting to quote that, “A human being’s moral integrity begins when he is prepared to sacrifice his life for his convictions”.

I am bewildered by the humbling fact that Bonhoeffer was brought to safety in the United States and then left because he stated:

“I shall have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people”.

Wow. I can only hope I would have courage like that is any given situation.

“Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to be obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God- the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God”.

“That requires faith, and may God grant it to us daily. I don’t mean faith that flees the world, but the faith that endures in the world and loves and remains true to that world in spite of all the hardships it brings us….I fear the Christians who venture to stand on earth on only one leg will stand in heaven on only one leg too”. -Bonhoeffer

Eric Metaxas notes that “the Christian life as something active, not reactive. It had nothing to do with avoiding sin or with merely talking or teaching or believing theological notions or principles or rules or tenets. It has everything to do with living one’s whole life in obedience to God’s call through action. It did not merely require a mind, but a body too. It was God’s call to be fully human, to live as human beings obedient to the One who had made us, which was the fulfillment of our destiny. It was not a cramped, compromised, circumspect life, but a life lived in a kind of wild, joyful, full-throated freedom- what is what it was to obey God”.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a living monument of that life described above- lived out!

It was said that Bonhoeffer never tired of repeating that the only fight which is lost is that which we give up. This is because he knew that God is not interested in success, but obedience. If one is willing to obey God and willing to suffer defeat and whatever else may come one’s way, God will show a kind of success that the world cannot imagine. But this is the narrow path, and few consider taking it.

Will you walk worthy?

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

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Making ‘sense’ of the “Creation Account”

  For the past couple days, I have had the privilege of having Dr. Jeff Vaughn and Tim Martin (authors of Beyond Creation Science) join me on live broadcasts on “The Power of Preterism Radio”. 

  Here are both of the links:

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepowerofpreterism/2014/02/11/discussing-the-creation-account-with-dr-jeff-vaughn

     http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepowerofpreterism/2014/02/12/miano-gone-wild

 I had sought out the wisdom of these men because of the recent debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye dealing with creation. Sadly, Ken Ham representing the “Biblical” model instead forced many presuppositions and ideas upon the Biblical text that are not there- leading many people, even close friends of mine wondering if that is indeed the Biblical account. One friend told me specifically, “Damage control is needed”. Thank God for giving wisdom to men like Jeff and Tim whom were willing to give of their time to offer a true and reasonable response. 

  If you have yet to hear the “hiding” behind “the Bible” that Ken Ham did during his debate, here is a link so you can watch the debate for yourself:

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6kgvhG3AkI

 Glory to God answers can be found but they must be sought. 

  Being that we are sort of “snowed in” here in New York, I took some time this morning to watch a video from Dr. John Walton in regards to his view and understanding of Genesis. Dr. Walton is the author of an amazing read- The Lost World of Genesis One. I must say, Dr. Walton’s explanation of Genesis and his discussion was so enlightening that I just had to write this blog and encourage YOU to look into these things. Here is the link to Walton’s video:

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUb9P5HXueo

 If that is not enough…Derek Lambert and I will be on our program “Truth Be Told” tonight at 5pm eastern, talking about this video and where we are at in regards to “the creation account”. You can tune in internationally by clicking on the link below at 5pm eastern:

     http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepowerofpreterism

 Also, Monday nights at 7pm, we are doing a book study on “Beyond Creation Science”. If you are around the area, get involved!

   Blessings in and through Jesus Christ,

       His servant,

               Pastor Michael Miano

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Ensuring “Completeness” in 2O14 – RESOLUTIONS

  Each year, except for last year, I try to publicly proclaim my “resolutions” in an effort to “be accountable”. I have found this to be a fruitful exercise which has enabled to me since 2OO6 to accomplish much: wrote a book, began an internet radio program, developed a personal ministry {The Freaked Out Movement}, developed and enhanced my personal understanding of Scripture, and ultimately began my pastorate at Blue Point Bible Church (planting and working in other pastoral positions along the way). 

  So as I prayerfully enter 2O14, I want to share some of my thoughts and goals pertaining to the year. As many of you may already know, I have developed a sort of “motto” for the year – “Beginning with the end, the the ends of the earth”. Basically, as I have come to understand “covenant eschatology” and what the “good news of Jesus” truly is, I have the desire to help others “see” and “hear” it as well. “The Power of Preterism” conference happening at The Blue Point Bible Church (http://www.blupointbiblechurch.org) is dedicated to the very purpose. In light of what has been accomplished in and through Jesus Christ (i.e., the New Covenant) let us therefore understand how we shall live. Matter of fact, this morning in my devotionals (there is a resolution beginning strongly right there), I detailed this a bit:

 “If through one man’s life there is little more love and kindness, a little more light and truth in the world, then he will not have lived in vain”. – Alfred Delp

    Read 1 John 4:7-1O; 1 John 5:14-21

 Imagine if we truly begin to live as “the people of God” and allow LOVE to be the defining factor of all that we do. 

 So it’s with that in mind that I begin detailing my “resolutions”.

  RESOLUTION ONE- BECOME MORE DEVOTIONAL IN AM AND EVENING READINGS AS WELL AS PRAYER (which in turn should help focus on living a complete and satisfying New Covenant life – “life to the full”. 

 Upfront I must admit, I like to detail “bucket list accomplishments” at the beginning of the year and add new ones to the list, but herein is the issue- one of my “resolutions” is to organize my paperwork (have not quite gotten back into the “swing of things” since my move to New York), so on this blog I will not be able to detail the “bucket list” info. 

    RESOLUTION TWO- ORGANIZE PAPERWORK AND NOTES (i.e., my “preterist box”) AND WEBSITES!

   I am looking to grow into my “pastorate” this year and truly lead with purpose and conviction and therefore have set some goals in doing so. 

   RESOLUTION THREE – GROW INTO “PASTORATE” 

            1. Get comfortable with my office and begin having meetings there (coffee, juice, soda, etc.. all on hand)   2. Organize rooms and paperwork in each room (make use of the file cabinets!!!)  2. Create a membership file book to be able to know more, help them grow more, and keep in touch better (Thank’s Robin for the awesome idea!)  3. Start utilizing “days before” to get ready for Sunday and clean church often   4. Develop a “new comers packet” 5. Launch *new* website  6. Programs such as Alpha, an open class at the college of high school, “Generations” Youth Program etc.  6. Prison Ministry?!?!  7. Organize and develop our “Prayer Room”  8. Hospital Chaplain or at least ministry for 6 months (develop a schedule)  8. In light of LI’s NBT, connect with other pastors and ministries

  As far as personal ministry goes, I am looking to develop a more “missional evangelism” and life in light of AD 7o for the Freaked Out Movement (http://www.freakedoutmovement.com). I currently have some ideas for marketing and maintaining the lifestyle of a “Jesus Freak” and will be developing and sharing them more as the year goes on. Also, keep an eye out for “The Freaked Out Book Club” as an incentive program for people of all ages to keep on reading! Miano Gone Wild Radio Program hasn’t been as organized as I would have liked this year so I will be looking to organize it- obviously bringing brother Derek Lambert onboard with “Truth Be Told” has been a blessing as well. Look for more to come…

 RESOLUTION FOUR – DEVELOP THE FREAKED OUT MOVEMENT (JFREAKS) & MGW RADIO

  As far as some learning exercises for the year, I have some good ones. I want to begin journalizing the Scriptures– which basically means handwriting the Scriptures into notebooks. This is great for reading comprehension and memorization. I have to thank Jen Fishburne for bringing this awesome idea to my attention- what she calls the “King’s Assignment”. In Deuteronomy 17:15-2O we read:

    “…you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves…..Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the levitical priests. It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or to the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel (Paraphrased a bit)”. 

  So, I will begin this effort in February. Please let me know if you decide you might want to do this effort. There is a website dedicated to helping with this effort if you choose to order the books through them to use (I am fine with a regular bunch of notebooks). http://www.graceandtruthbooks.com/category/the-journibles

 RESOLUTION FIVE – JOURNALIZE THE SCRIPTURES

 Also, I am looking to complete classes and so forth over at Fulfilled Covenant Christian Leaders Institute and help Allyn Morton develop the idea for the school a bit more. To be upfront and honest, I am aiming to ask Allyn if I may take a position of authority with the school and develop a full and complete curriculum to train and ordain pastors.        

 RESOLUTION SIX- FINISH AND DEVELOP FCCLI

   Also, looking to revise and republish my book- Freaked Out by the New Covenant

  RESOLUTION SEVEN- REVISE AND REPUBLISH “FREAKED OUT BY THE NEW COVENANT”

 and last but not least, as far as personal study and development I am looking to get through the writings of Josephus, go through Jewish writings such as Mishnah, Talmud, etc.. available at http://www.sacred-texts.com  , and surely learn and teach more pertaining to “hell”. Maybe, I will see you at the Rethinking Hell Conference in Houston, Texas in July. http://www.rethinkinghellconference.com/2014/

  RESOLUTION EIGHT – PERSONAL STUDY AND DEVELOPMENT 

 Well, I am sure I will develop more “resolutions” within the year, but I believe this is a good and busy start. Hopefully I have inspired you to begin a list of your own. If you hold me accountable I will surely hold you accountable as well. 

  Blessings in Christ, 

     Pastor Michael Miano

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