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Who is That?!? Yahweh’s Divine Council (Part 2)

For the past month of so, I have continually obsessed and examined the “Divine Heavenly Council” teachings that are coming into the Church, especially pertaining to those in the Preterist view.

In part 1, we examined the phrase “ben elohim” which can mean either “sons of God” or “sons of the gods” depending on the context in which we find it being used. Neither time does the phrase speak of “otherworld being” or what we often erroneously refer to as “spirit beings”, instead some times the “sons of God” is a reference to Israel, and other times it is a reference to pagan believers (“sons of the gods”).

Let me be clear. I do believe in a “Spiritual Realm” (while I will readily admit this is an area I am willing to learn and do some study). I do believe in “spirit beings” – however I am cautious not to allow my mind to create figments of my imagination and then impose them on Scripture. As I put the Scriptural Narrative at the forefront and examine ANE literature, what I like to call taking a Biblical look at the ANE, I find the story of a God who is Spirit who is inviting His people to become like Him. The whole narrative of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is painting this picture. Our understanding of the “Spiritual realm” must start there.

With that said, I wanted to take you through some of points in the “Divine Heavenly Council” that seem to be out of sync with the rest of the Biblical narrative. In this examination I will focus on passages provided in the article by Jeffrey McCormack in Fulfilled! Magazine called “Yahweh’s Divine Council” .

Again let me reiterate the focus of this part 2, namely to show that the Scriptures and phrases used to support this teaching of “Yahweh’s Divine Council” are not being demonstrated in line with the context of the Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation.

Below we will look at some of the verses Mr. McCormack uses to propagate his view of the “watchers” being an assembling hierarchy of “little g” gods. A view in which he further states “Thus, when we read of gods such as Baal and Molech, we are reading of these angelic leaders.”

The book of Psalms is a noted as a poetic book, one of the “books of wisdom” in Scripture, which use highlight poetic/allegoric details to bring us into the Wisdom of the Father. It is important to consider what style of literature you are reading when seeking to use verses to make a point. I would hardly use the poetic language in Psalms to prove doctrinal points. In reading through the Psalms, I have found I tend to agree with the simple readings offered by translations such as NIV and NLT rather than the more dogmatic KJV or NASB. Read through the Psalms in different translations and see for yourself.

OK so, Psalm chapter 82 it seems to be a rant against the rampant idolatry in Israel. If you study through the historic context in the days of King David you will find how this fits. Israel was continually judged for their failure to heed the Wisdom of the Father by their being enticed to wickedness and idolatry. This Psalm speaks against that. The one true God, when put in a courtroom setting with the other so-called “gods” he is the true Judge, the one who lasts forever, and in due time He will bring forth judgment. Pretty much the continual cry of the righteous in Israel against the rampant idolatry.

In Psalm chapter 89, we are reading a praise of God’s sovereignty. In this praise we are reading a polemic against the other false narratives of the gods. The mention of the chaos and the serpent-creature Rahab alludes to the myths and lies of the pagan beliefs. Again, this is all done in poetic prose not to assert the validity of the pagan “gods”, simply to exclaim praise for the One True God.

Failure to understand the poetic style of these statements seems to be the issue with McCormack’s using these verses to try to validate his “Heavenly Council” stuff. Simply put, when we understand and pay attention to the genre of the Psalms, and the historical context of what was happening during the time of King David and the writing of the Psalms, the “poems” seem rather clear in depicting the sovereignty of God. Bringing strange teachings about otherworldly beings does not fit within the historic narrative and audience relevance.

In his article, Mr. McCormack writes, “Space does not permit discussing it here, but read 1 Kings 22:19-22 to see this divine council at work”. In that passage we read the prophetic words of Micaiah against King Ahab. He speaks prophetically about the sovereignty of God and how a false spirit was within the king’s prophets who told him to go to war against Ramoth-Gilead.

Mr. McCormack would have us to believe that this prophetic picture is a real event happening in the heavens, wherein a one of the “divine council” have decided to falsely lead King Ahab’s prophets. His perspective seems to illustrate confusion in reading through the prophetic versus what actually happened. Consider how prophets talked about wars and calamities that occurred.

He further details that within the historic narrative of people becoming disobedient to Yawweh, He finally gave them over to the leadership of lesser gods. Not only does that sound ludicrous, Mr. McCormack even tries to utilize Scripture in the midst of his confusion. Consider his citation of Dueteronomy 4:19; 29:26; and 32:8-9.

And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven. (Deuteronomy 4:19)”

If you do an honest reading through the Law of Moses, and ultimately understand the reason for it (to set His people, Israel, apart from the nations and the rampant idolatry), you will see clearly what this verse is saying. Whereas all the pagans looked into the sky and made “gods” of all that they saw, Moses herein is instructing God’s people not to look into the sky (shamayim in the Hebrew) and worship anything – not the sun, not the moon, not the stars, nothing of the group of things they see in the sky.

For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them..(Dueteronomy 29:26)”.

I can see how a cursory reading of this verse can lend us to the idea that God gave Israel over to false gods, a reading very similar to what we read by the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 1. However, I believe God gave His truth to His people and they forsook it, and God is speaking in contrast to that. His people began to worship gods who they made up, as the Prophets say again and again, whom He had not given them – in contrast to His giving of Himself and His truth. There is no need to go on and read strange details our reading.

When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.“For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance (Deuteronomy 32:8-9)”.

I have read through Deuteronomy chapter 32 again and again, even using the text in my own apologetics regarding Preterism, and I have never read this in the text. As I looked into commentaries on the text I realized most commentators are in line with the natural understanding I would have gathered from the text. You can see for yourself by visiting this link which provides various commentaries, http://biblehub.com/commentaries/deuteronomy/32-8.htm

All in all, as I explained this morning in Bible study, we must develop an understanding of Spirituality that is in line with the narrative and details we find in Scripture. The Prophets spoke to give ‘spiritual clarity’ in regards to historic events that were happening. Hebraic Spirituality in contrast to pagan or later developed Hellenistic Spirituality was abstract and not necessarily “otherworldly”. That offers a shameless plug to my upcoming book release, Wicked: The Search for Spirituality and Life, wherein I will further explain the distinction of Hebraic spirituality and it’s God-ordained inspiration from other versions of “spirituality” which sum up to be the wild thoughts of man’s imagination.

I pray I have offer clarity in these regards.

Blessings in Christ Jesus,

Pastor Michael Miano

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Rendering You Neither Useless nor Unfruitful in the Knowledge of God – MAKE DISCIPLES!!

Rendering You Neither Useless nor Unfruitful in the Knowledge of God”

As of June 2015, I (Pastor Michael Miano) have begun leading a discipleship program that I have developed through years of learning from other discipleship programs. We are calling this “Immersed Discipleship”.

The name says it all. I am endeavoring to disciple others the way I myself was discipled- by being immersed into the knowledge of God. Keeping in mind the concept of ‘milk & meat’, I seek to bring together those who want to be discipled and show them with the ‘things of God’ -whether it be deep doctrinal stuff, life application, or challenging ourselves in regards to outreach and evangelism- the goal is to help those coming into the faith to be “neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8)”.

There is really no limit or boundary in regards to what we discuss at ‘Immersed Discipleship’. For example, last week in one of our classes, some of our discussion was based around the historical controversy of the Donatists. Here is an interesting article on those details for your studying pleasure:

http://gregsvoboda.com/2013/01/the-donatist-controversy-the-most-important-heresy-youve-never-heard-of/

Surely, as persecution of Christians continues, we can find some relevancy for ourselves in that historic conversation.

All of those details noted, a point that I made at our recent class was that 2,000 years after Christ first instructed His Apostles to preach the Gospel, we find ourselves sitting in a local church class room endeavoring to be His disciples. I regularly have the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel and see people become interested in what Jesus offers.

*Keep on the ‘lookout’ for an upcoming video I will release, “The Fulfilled Gospel in 6 Minutes” on YouTube in days to come.

After we heed the Gospel (namely the truth of Matthew 7:24-29), we then should be seeking to “walk worthy of 2 Peter 1:8.

For the remainder of this blog, I want to share with you a couple of ways I believe discipleship should be worked out in your life. God willing, I will provide you with a basic knowledge of how you can apply 2 Peter 1 to your life.

Missiologist and Theologian, David Bosch noted “For the disciple of Jesus, the stage of discipleship is not the first step toward a promising career. It is itself the fulfillment of his or her destiny”.

As a disciple your priority should be to gather with other saints to exhort and encourage each other to be accountable in personal discipleship, as well be the ‘healing of the nations’ as a community. At the Blue Point Bible Church (which I pastor) we have the following ‘mission statement’:

The purpose of this church shall be to make disciples, that is to produce mature believers, by carrying out God’s objectives for His Church in the world, evangelizing the lost and edifying the people of God”.

I call this the COLLECTIVE part of your discipleship.

The “collective church community” should further serve to build you up as a member of the Body, essentially the ‘purpose’ and ‘unity’ of the faith as preached by the Apostle Paul brings us in this direction. If 2 Peter chapter 1 is not an exhortation enough (which we will be dealing with as we conclude this blog), then let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 12:1-0. Go ahead and read the text.

Reading through 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, not only do you get a glimpse of the Apostle Paul’s concerns, you also see that God’s strength is shown in our weaknesses. The goal of gathering “collectively” is for us to not only see, but come to realize it is not about us- it’s about Him. The “collective church community” should seek to exhort and encourage the believer through the knowledge of God, bringing about a “strength” that only comes from God, and could never be exemplified through man. Again remember, it’s all about His glory! That should be your INDIVIDUAL focus.

The work of the “collective church community” and the “individual” is to seek out, understand, and live in proper doctrine. Reading through the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy shows this very clearly. Go ahead and read through 1 Timothy chapters 2-4. Bad doctrine, or a messed up understanding of the things of God is compared to “dirty water” in Scripture. Who wants to drink “dirty water”? Worst yet, how does one feel after drinking “dirty water”?

In matters of discipleship we have noted that not only are ‘eschatological doctrines’ among many other areas in need of “study to show ourselves approved”, sadly even the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (or what we might refer to as the ‘practical applications’ of our faith are distorted as well. Some have referred to this as “The Crisis of the Sermon on the Mount”. A great article on that topic can be found here:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1995/july17/5t8038.html

As we contemplate the ‘true knowledge of God’, what should become clear beyond anything else is that without Christ, we will never “walk worthy” of the things of God. God offering covenant to us without Jesus is essentially “bad news”. We cannot and will not walk worthy- thus demonstrating the need for Jesus Christ. In these regards I enjoy this quote by Leo Tolstoy:

The test of observance of Christ’s teachings is our consciousness of our failure to attain to an ideal perfection. To the degree which we draw near, this perfection cannot be seen, all we see is the extent of our deviation”.

If you can come to that conclusion each and every time you study the doctrines of God, your DOCTRINAL understanding is in a healthy place.

That brings us to the final point, some may argue the most important- How to apply these things to my life? I have come to refer to this type of questioning as “diligent discipleship”.

I am fond of reading and learning from others, even to the extent that I recently accused myself of “following man”. However, praise-fully, I was rebuked by the Word. As the Apostle Paul himself admonishes the saints to be followers of him in 1 Corinthians 4:16 as well as in 11:1. Timothy was told in the letters to him to be mindful of who he received the faith from, and live like them.

Surely that brings together- collective, individual, doctrinal, and application discipleship. It must be done in community, it must be done diligently, and ultimately for the glory of God.

In our Wednesday Bible Study (just another way we walk worthy of our purpose at B.P.B.C.), we have been reviewing a series done by a man named Ray Vander Laan, and he details much of what I detailed in this blog- yet he refers to our lives in discipleship as “a well watered garden”. Author Vera Nazarian has noted, “The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds. If you merely stroll through the garden, you are but an acolyte. “. I pray this blog has further exhorted you to become a ‘mater of the garden’ as it pertains to your discipleship.

In keeping with that line of thinking, here is a list of things to do in the Garden. Let’s start calling it our “Gardening List” (cf. 2 Peter 1)

  1. applying all diligence” – do this with a concentrated and constant effort
  2. in your faith supply moral excellence” – remembering that “faith” cannot be seen (Hebrews 11:1), the excellent morals we live by can be seen (read Philippians 2:1-11)
  3. add knowledge” – awareness, facts, information, and skill about the “things of God”
  4. add self-control” – ability to control one’s emotions, behavior, and desires in the face of external demands
  5. add perseverance” – be steadfast in what your doing despite possible trying circumstances
  6. add godliness” – Desire to bring glory to God
  7. add brotherly kindness” – do good to others, especially those of the household of faith
  8. love- love God with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength as well as love your neighbor as yourself – Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about his calling and choosing you: for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you (2 Peter 1:8-11)”.

Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you (2 Peter 1:12)”.

In His Service,

Pastor Michael Miano

Blue Point Bible Church

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Always Reforming- Confusion, Clarity, & Controversy

We can’t help but acknowledge the seemingly prophetic words of William Tyndale, the Christian reformer, who in the mid-16th century proclaimed to the then Catholic Pope, “I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the Scriptures than you!”

The Protestant Reformation which I believe should be properly be attributed to the glory of God, however can be traced back to the use of Jan Hus as a vessel used by God. So erupted the challenge, that the “average Christian” is called to be apart of the ‘Priesthood of Christ’ and not some religious elite. The Bible was put in the comman mands hands, and thus began the confusion. Denominationalism is what occured as many servants of God began to understand various truths contained in the Scriptures. The Reformed churches placed importance on doctrine, while the anabaptists sought to throw the government off of the people of God. The Anglicans would have their own perspective, and even some within the Catholic Church sought reform (i.e. Erasmus).

As I preached this last Sunday, it would be the God-led work of John Calvin who would seek to offer clarity in the midst of confusion. Surely the 21st century Christian Church can understand that sentiment, amen?

John Calvin which initiate a deeper look at the story of Scripture in what would come to be known as “Systematic Theology”. You can listen to my past sermon on these details by visiting the following link, http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/239650-closing-up-with-clarity-on-calvinism

Since the time of reformation, there has been plenty of controversy and disagreement within the Church. Clarity is surely not all that easy, as anyone who has discussed any topic in public, especially in our post-modern society, should know. There is always that person that will disagree, and you know what? They may have a good argument. I personally have begun a discussion with a brother named Jason Watt on an area similar to the whole John Calvin/ Jacob Arminius controversy. Jason holds to a view called “Open Theism” while I would be more in line with “Calvinism”. We both are diligent students of the Word, we both agree on many areas, however this topic, which we both deem to be pretty darn important, we find controversy. As I detail the history of this historic doctrinal controversy, I am excited to display brotherly love, humility, and respect as we deal with the details in regards to the glory of God. You can read Jason Watt’s article here, http://fulfilledfocus.blogspot.com/2015/01/conversations-with-pastor-miano.html

I follow John Calvin’s line of thinking in the regard that to even think it is possible for man to contemplate or ponder approaching the grace of God, in other words giving man the ‘choice’, is simply put “robbing God of His sovereignty”. If you go about reading John Calvin’s Commentaries of the “Providence” of God, or read through his, Institutes on the Christian Religion, you will find despite the mass confusion regarding the doctrines that follow Calvin, his goal was to defend the sovereignty of God.

In his day, due to the revolt against the Catholic doctrines of Popery and clergy, penance, as well as the very doctrines of man’s understanding of salvation, John Calvin sought to put the details in their right place- taking the false authority the Catholic Church had given to man. Instead, throughout his writings, John Calvin sought to demonstrate the ‘total depravity’ of man as revealed through the narrative of Scripture, nothing good can come from him, and all the good decisions outside of his “carnal nature” is immediately given back to God.

Why would someone want to argue this? Calvin would have simply pointed out that the “innate idolatry” ever present within man causes man to always endeavor to bring glory back to himself- therefore arguing against the very purposes and will of God.

In this article, I want to demonstrate how the Arminian Remonstrance indeed comes off in that manner.

The Arminian Remonstrance was a response to the Belgic Confession (1561) which was drawn up in 1610. The followers of Jacob Arminius, in an effort to memorialize the teachings of their leader after his death, drew up the ‘Five Arminian Articles’ in 1610, in an effort to dispute the Belgic Confession (1561). For some history, information, and a read through this Confession visit the following link, http://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/confessions/belgic-confession

You can read these 5 Artictles themselves by visiting this link:

http://www.esvbible.org/resources/creeds-and-catechisms/article-the-five-arminian-articles-1610/

Something that seems to not come up enough in the Calvinist-Arminianist debate is that both sides believe in “election”. Election is simply the view that God has chosen some and not others. What ‘Article 1’ of the Arminian Articles does it takes the authority away from God and gives it to man. Man is the author of his salvation and God simply follows suit. If only Adam had wandered into the garden on his own….however that did not happen (see, Genesis 2:15; Hebrews 12:2).

Instead, a proper view of “predestination” as originally posited by St. Augustine, then outlined by John Calvin in his Commentaries, and furthered by Ulrich Zwingli gives all authority to God in regards to His Elect.

Much of the confusion comes from “proof texts” instead of understanding the full force of the Biblical narrative. When we open our Bibles, we are reading God reaching down and bringing clarity/order to man, not man pondering the clarity/order he so desires. Simply put, ‘total depraved’ man cannot do good, which means man cannot ponder approaching God unless God acts first. That is the narrative of Israel being drawn out through the Scriptures, being highlighted through the necessity of the Incarnation. God must do something because we simply can’t. Far too many Christians seem to be reading their Bibles from a bottom to the top mindset, putting themselves in charge, rather than top to bottom, properly recognizing the sovereignty of God.

This is exactly what John Calvin was going against. The dangers of such a system is it makes man the author of his own destiny, which understably is an exciting concept, yet again, I posit it robs God of His Rulership.

Following such logic, than robs the Elect of all that God did for them and makes what I can a “Big G God” into a little “g” god. ‘Unlimited Atonements’ means that Christ came and died for all, and we all have an opportunity to partake. This completely removes the story from the narrative of Scripture. It was Israel that needed atonement from the Law they were under. It would be the grace & faithfulness of God fulfilling the promises of intervening on Israel’s behalf that would explode to the surrounding nations and cause them to glorify Him (see, Romans chapters 9 & 15). Again the use of “proof texts” in the Arminian Articles brings much confusion.

Honestly, a simple read through the Arminian Articles should cause one to shudder at how we are putting man in control, all in an effort to give man “free will”, and taking the control that God has and is drawn out through the narrative of Scripture.

I firmly believe that is the key and am willing to walk worthy. In settling alot of these disputes, we must come from a “full gospel” perspective. In noting the harm of “proof texts”, I believe we must follow the narrative of Scripture and if we truly do not believe that God has retired or changed (see, Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6 ) then we must allow the narrative to inform our view of how it is that God works in and through our lives.

Remember this…..the carnal mind is at war with God (Romans 8:7). This is displayed through the story of Scripture, in that for no other reason than bestowing grace upon man, God has chosen to create “covenant”. He did it with Adam, yet Adam chose his own way. He did it with Israel, and Israel again chose their own way. Through Christ the opprotunity has been make known, not simply to the tribes of Jacob, but to all who are called by Him (Isaiah 49:6; John 1:13).

Recognizing the story through the narrative of Scripture, I surely do not endeavor to walk the lines of fallen Adam and judged Israel, instead recognizing the sovereigty of God and the depravity of man (innate idolatry), I would much rather not exalt my “free will” and give in to idolatry, than to attribute the proper sovereignty to the God who desveres it.

As I sum up my thoughts on the Calvinist-Arminian debate that is still ongoing to our day, I simply want to posit my presupposition that this God is to amazing and sovereign for me to even begin to ponder approaching Him, and God fobid that I think such a grace that He bestows upon man is ressistible (see, Isaiah 55:11; James 4:15) . Which therefore makes an “open theism” completely impossible. For some Calvinst “proof texts”, visit the following link, http://www.calvinistcorner.com/verses-gods-sovereignty.htm

In His Service & For His Glory,

Pastor Michael Miao

(P.S.- This is not the full response I would like to give to Jason Watt’s article, that will be coming soon…)

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Dwelling on & Living in an Irresistible Grace

Yesterday I ended a sermon about “irresistible grace” with the following quotes by Shane Claiborne:

Most good things have been said far too many times and just need to be lived.”

…I believe in a God of scandalous grace. I have pledged allegiance to a King who loved evildoers so much He died for them, teaching us there is something worth dying for but nothing worth killing for”.

In citing these quotes, I was calling our congregation (Blue Point Bible Church) to “live in” the “irresistible grace” we believe in. We can read of the “Common Grace” bestowed upon all people in Matthew 5:43-45,

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be the sons of your Father who is in heaven: for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous.”

If we are called to live in such a love as that in response to “common grace”, imagine what type of love we are called to live out in response to an “irresistible grace” that saves God’s own!

You can listen to that podcast by visiting the following link,

http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/234018-calvinism-for-christmas-bible-series-part-5

So…this morning in prayer I was praying upon this and felt so convicted! It’s a blessing when a Godly conviction comes upon us and spurs us to respond. That is the essence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Daily I read through the Common Prayer book which I find to be a blessed Spiritual Discipline. As the New Year comes upon us, Spiritual Disciplines, or what many refer to as “New Year’s Resolutions”, should be at the forefront of our lives. Sure enough, the Common Prayer book was compiled and organized by a Spirit-led movement called “New Monasticism”. It was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who once spoke about the need for a “new monasticism” within the Church. I have been blessed to both learn about and participate in the New Monasticism movement.

Last months focus for Common Prayer was “Locating our Lives to the Abandoned Places of the Empire”. A great point was made that, “Everything in our society teaches us to move away from suffering…, however Jesus compels us to mourn with and comfort them”. In response to the Biblical expression of ‘loving the stranger’, Common prayer says, “We are to laugh at fear, to lean into suffering, to open ourselves to the stranger”.

I must say…God has been working on my mind and heart quite a bit lately. In October I felt convicted upon the realities of “hell” and what that means from a truly Biblical perspective. I have mentioned many times I am working on publishing a book in mid-2015 based upon my theological and application convictions of a post-judgment perspective called “Wicked”. Then studying systematic theology through the lens of John Calvin has surely had an impact on my spiritual convictions in regards to those who are outside of Christ. As I prepared for our Christmas Eve message at B.P.B.C. I was impacted by the power of the incarnation and how that should call us to “live incarnationally” and bring light to the dark places of the world.

How often we forget to bring light into the areas we deem “Nazareth’s” of the world. Remember, they said about our Lord, “Nothing good comes from Nazareth.”

As I have been praying for some time now through Common Prayer and being impacted about these “abandoned places”, I have realized it is not necessarily about physically moving to another location, but rather taking time to be convicted to spend time in the areas, or with the people, we have somehow made ‘abandoned’.

In my New Year’s resolutions I made a point to “resolve” to spend more time with family, friends, and others whom I have not really developed “true friendships” with, yet desire to, and therefore spend time appreciating how God in working in there life, and seek to comfort or help where it is needed Surely “irresistible grace” calls us to that!

This has called me to an “intentionality” in 2015 to respond to God’s grace, and I hope as you maybe listen to the podcast, or spend time studying through the amazing story of God’s grace through Scripture, and how Jesus instructs His disciples to respond- you will be compelled with a similar intentionality.

INTENTIONALITY DEFINED, is that which is done by intention or design. Pray and allow God’s Spirit to compel to do this amazing work in your heart and mind.

Blessings in Christ you you and your loved ones in this blessed New Year!

In His Service,

Pastor Michael Miano

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The Devil; Who? Name that Satan! (Part 2)

     In the last article I wrote as part of this brief series I dealt with the 2 most popular passages utilized by many ‘Christians’ to point out the devil as an angelic being (Isaiah chapter 14 & Ezekiel chapter 28). I believe I made it very clear those passages are speaking in hyperbolic language depicting God’s judgment upon both the king of Babylon & the king of Tyre.  

   So now it must be asked. What then is “the devil” and “the satan”? If I am to be honest, I will tell you that this study has given me more questions and than answers, alot of what I attribute to preconceived notions and a failure to have the same mindset the ancient Israelites would have had pertaining to this topic.

        That is MY GOAL! I want to understand how the ancient Israelites would have understood this topic of “the devil” and “the Satan” not how 21st century people would. I will dare to say I don’t think they desired nor felt the need to see it as “pegged and detailed” as much as we do. 

    In the Old Testament one can hardly find reference to some mythical creature called “the devil” or “the Satan” instead we read of God Himself bringing blessings and curses upon people (Genesis 3:17-19; Genesis 30:1-2; Dueteronomy 28:20-23; Jeremiah 25:37-28 serve as a great examples).    

   I want to deal with “the devil” and “the Satan” as two distinct topics which I sought to exhibit in the title. As I read and study Scripture I see the “devil” being that which is in opposition to God whereas Satan I see as a title being given to those things more specifically and situations that oppose God. Make sense? I hardly notice reference to the devil in the Old Testament but I see plenty of Satan references (which we will deal with soon enough).    

   The first mention we will find of Satan would be in the book of Job. Job being the oldest collected writing in the Old Testament.    

   Read Job 1:1-12 

    “Now there was a day when the SONS OF GOD came to PRESENT themselves BEFORE THE LORD, and SATAN came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it”. Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? For there is no one like him on earth,a  blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil (Job 1:6-8)”.   

So…who are the “sons of God”? In Deuteronomy 14:1, Moses is continuing his discourse of the Law and refers to the Israelites as “sons of the Lord”. In Isaiah 43:6 we are reading about the restoration of Israel wherein the Lord calls those being called back His sons and daughters. And if it is not yet clear, in Hosea 1:10 when the Lord is giving Hosea this prophecy to “number the sons of Israel” He speaks of the restoration as calling them “sons of the living God”.    

Where do people get that these were angels? Huh? 

 Ok, so “the sons of God” are coming to present themselves to the Lord? How was this done? And why? Turn to Deuteronomy 19:15-20. “If a malicious witness rises up AGAINST  a man to ACCUSE him of wrong doing, then both the men who have a dispute shall STAND BEFORE THE LORD, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days….purge the EVIL from among you”.      

First off, anything spooky in that text about devils, dragons, and demons? NO! Yet we see EVIL spoken of as regards to accusations and wrongdoing, right? In this text- what did it mean to stand before the Lord? To stand before the priests and judges, right? Interesting, right?  

  This might blow your mind right here…The Hebrew term  שָׂטָן which is translated as Satan means “acccuser, one who stands against, an adversary”. So in the text of Deuteronomy 19:15-20 the “Satan” would have been that person who brought a charge of wrongdoing against you.    

Now…when you read the passage in Job with all of this understanding, doesn’t it have a different twist, a bit more reasonable than some sci-fi nonsense people have been coming up with? An accuser was coming with the sons of God(whatever people group those who came before the Lord were called during the time of Job) as they were entering into the presence of the priests- now that makes sense as to why God began to explain to this accuser about Job being righteous! Hello! Then Read Job chapter 2 and it all falls right into place. The beauty of context! 

   Also, it important to take notice that all the trials that Job experienced in the book of Job were done by God not some ethereal entity causing him trials (see, Job 2:3; 19:21; 42:11).  

    Let’s look at some other references of Satan.   

Turn to Numbers 22:22-23 – In your Bible you might want to circle the term “adversary” because guess what? The term “Satan” is used there in the Greek. THE ANGEL OF THE LORD is the Satan here, whoah!! So now Satan is working for God? Read the whole story starting back at 22:1 and read to verse 41. “The Satan” here is simply an adversary standing against what Balaam is seeking to do. Ironically if you read verses 32-43, Balaam sinned by NOT LISTENING to this Satan. And people say Bible study is boring? pshhh.    

 Ok, now turn to 1 Samuel 29:1-4. Here the Philistines want King David to turn back so that he does not become a “Satan” to them. Did King David run the risk of becoming a fallen angel called “Satan”? NO!  We see the same thing in 2 Samuel 19:22- where King David is speaking about the sons of Zeruiah becoming a “Satan” to him? An adversary! Those who would come against!  (See, 1 Kings 5:3; 11:14, 23-25).  

         Turn with me to 2 Samuel chapter 24. Watch this….this alone will prove the ancient Israelites did not have the understand of the term “Satan” that many are trying to force into the Bible today. Are you ready?   

   “Now again THE ANGER OF THE LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah (2 Samuel 24:1)”.    

    Now turn to 1 Chronicles 21:1 which is the parallel account of the same story. Hold on to your seat my friends!    

  “Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel”.  

  Whoa…is the anger of the Lord = “Satan”? Don’t change what the text says. What does it say?  

 The Lord was angry with Israel, He stood as their adversary at that moment, and incited David to go number the people. No ethereal being or anything weird happening here my friends!   Interesting, huh? I would love for someone to show me just one passage in the Old Testament that speaks of “the devil” and “the Satan” being an angelic being- instead what we DO SEE THROUGHOUT THE OLD TESTAMENT is hyperbolic phrases referring to those who stand in opposition to one another.   

 Remember how I showed you the story of Job being about going to the priests and so forth? Watch this…Turn to Zechariah chapter 3.    

  “Then He showed me Joshua THE HIGH PRIEST standing BEFORE THE ANGEL OF THE LORD, and SATAN standing at his right hand TO ACCUSE HIM”.  

  ah..here we all are again. 🙂 

    “The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire”.  

    Satan (an adversary or accuser) has accused the inhabitants of Jerusalem of unrighteousness, and here the Lord is rebuking the accuser and restoring Joshua and Israel.  

Sorry folks, no sci-fi stuff going on here! Simply read the text and allow the context to be what it is! The Satan being referenced throughout the Old Testament simply meant accuser or adversary.    

 More to come…. 

Blessings in Christ,      

   Pastor Mike Miano

P.S.- Again, please email comments, thoughts, and questions to Christianitygonewild@yahoo.com

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The Effect of a Fulfilled (Corporate) Gospel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

               Go in peace!     -Mike Miano

Blogs of interest:

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

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

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

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