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Notebook Review & Resources (4/2016 – 9/2016)

If you know me, you know that I am adamant about the Spiritual and mental health that is provided through notekeeping and journaling.
As I have grown through the years, I have “catalogued” everything. I have also grown accustomed to writing a review every time I finish a notebook – for my own benefit, however many have said they found the details to be edifying. Namely, for my benefit because if you ever read my notes you know full well that they need to be decoded to make any sense, many times, even to me.

 

This most recent notebook was rather small. It looked important though. 🙂 And these last couple months have had some growth spurts, so I am excited to share and review myself. As I have said to some, this has been a harvesting season in my life and ministry. Glory to God!
On April 11th, I wrote in my notes that I woke up thinking about the power of the local church. I wrote, “The local church provides the “knowledge of God” to enable us to live like, worship like, and ultimately love Jesus Christ”. This is a timely encouragement and very important, as I just woke up this morning to reading through my various social networks how so many have come to reject the power of gathering with a local congregation. They spout all sorts of nonsense from “mad-made institution” to “legalism”. In this regard, I had the privilege of being the guest speaker for the April “Monthly Preterist Conference Call” and the topic I had spoken upon was “The Efficacy of the Local Church”. You can listen to that and read more, and the following link, https://preteristconferencecalls.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/01-michael-miano-the-efficacy-of-the-local-church/

 

Early on in the year, as a sort of “divine unction” I began to get very involved in local networking, social meetings, and outreach. This afforded us at Blue Point Bible Church quite a few opportunities to serve the larger community with Brentwood “Hope Day”, hosting a Blood Drive, and being involved in local civic and chamber of commerce gatherings, as well as helping and being involved with other local nonprofits. I also learned a lot, found some inspirations and burdens, and made some friends along the way. #ThePastorLife
As I mine through my notes, I have decided I simply want to share some details and resources that edified me during what seems to be the “season” I was in for while.
Kurt Willems, an Anabaptist writer and pastor, put together an excellent examination of the difference perspectives of Pauline literature (the writings of the Apostle Paul). A great point he made in the midst of that series, which I have mentioned many times before in blogs and even sermons, was “If we don’t know the history, just the theology, we come up with all sorts of answers”. Even if I may not agree with all of his conclusions, I must say Pastor Willems did a great job on this podcast, which you can access at the following link, http://paulcast.org/
It was either earlier April or even late March that I began communications with a Bible teacher named Lloyd Dale. He had emailed me and began discussion regarding some points of theology we agree and disagree on. I was blessed to read through and listen to some of his presentations , and look forward to further communication with him. One point he made in a lecture, which is timely as we currently go through a month of Jewish Feasts, is “If you do not understand what “The Promised Land” was a “type” of, then you do not know what you need to know”.
For the past 2 Sundays at The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch.com), we have been highlighting how important Understanding Contextual Details in Scripture truly is in regards to “Being Christian”, and brother Llloyd Dale highlights that. You can read and listen to his messages at the following link, http://lloyddale.com/ I personally recommend his teaching on “The Kingdom”.
In the midst of this season, I was challenged by a local pastor regarding my understanding of 2 Corinthians chapter 5:6, the infamous “absent from the body, present with the Lord” verse. I was told my understanding of this text, as referring to the “Corporate Body” of Old Covenant saints made me a “heretic” and not “Christian” (even to the extend of trying to have me removed from local pastor meetings). Anyway, this highlights an ongoing discussion and debate within the “preterist movement” regarding the Corporate Body View (CBV) held by Dr. Don K. Preston, William Bell, Larry Siegle, and many others (ie. Covenant Eschatology), and the Individual Body at Death (IBD) perspective, held to by Mr.Ed Stevens, and is more intimately connected to the common “futurist understanding” of the “glorified body”.

I love the work of all of these men, even in disagreement, and look forward to playing my part in helping bring forth clarity on this “resurrection” issue, all the while being humble and kind to one another. I know of about 3 different works currently happening to foster a better understanding of these details.

I had talked a bit about these disagreements and details as found all throughout “Church History” on MGW Online Radio a while back. You can still go back and listen to the podcasts. However, in the midst of the series I had been doing, I took a brief hiatus, and am looking to re-launch the show on October 24th with a series that will bring forth a host of clarity and healing in regards to Full Preterism. I will be bringing guests on the show (even some of the people mentioned in this blog) to discuss pertinent issues, and challenging the various “flavors of Preterism”. Look forward to that coming soon. Visit www.MianoGoneWild.com

As I come to a close with this review, I have to mention a couple last things. I have been blessed to have a co-laborer with perseverance and vision right here on Long Island. Johnny Silonski (Ova) has been a blessing and as I review my notes, I see he put forth some resources that I was blessed by. One comment he made that really stirred me, and has much to do not only with my testimony, but also with all that I labor to do is “My heart cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects”. Amen! Listen to Johnny detail that and more on the Omega Man podcast as well as his thoughts on “The Nature of the Kingdom”, at the following links:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/omegamanradio/2010/08/13/episode-29–johnny-ova-jeff-and-mike-beavers

https://preteristconferencecalls.wordpress.com/2016/09/17/04-johnny-ova-the-nature-of-the-kingdom/

Ironically, on August 31, 2016 I was questioning the seeming “new season” it seemed God was bringing my into. I write this now 2 months later, and through all of these resources, the blessing of an amazing congregation as BPBC, the love and concern of my fiancee, and the Spirit of God, I can testify that God surely brought me into a new season. Confirmation came through the recent book, Chase the Lion written by Pastor Mark Batterson. The book challenges you through various stories of inspiration, as well as Scriptural examples of the need for us to go after dreams and goals that are God-inspired. In his usual fashion, Pastor Batterson convicts the reader to truly examine what God wants them to do for His glory. A book that truly speaks to our time and need, if not, then for a soon coming season.
Two quotes that I was inspired by, which are pretty much carrying me into my next season, and I pray they will challenge you as well are:

“The Christian is called upon not to be like a thermometer conforming to the temperature of his society but he must be like a thermostat serving to transform the temperature of his society”.
– MLK Jr. (Transformed Nonconformist)

“We have learned: One may do much or one may do little, it is all one, provided he/ she directs his/her heart to heaven”. – Rabbi’s of Jabneh

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Let the Church be the Church, and America- Be America!

Here we find ourselves in the 21st century, where for many the lines have been dulled between “Church” and “State”. If you take the time to peruse through Church History, this surely isn’t new for the church. However the striving to bring Christianity into America, to dominate America, has proven to be a daunting task since the time of the Puritans in the 17th century.

Is America a “Christian nation”? Should this be the goal of the Church? For example, when we read 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“…And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land”.

Why do we constantly seem to put America in place of “His people” instead of the Body of Believers called the Church? This is the nagging question I have and want to keep before you as I continue making some points through this article.

For the past couple months we have been going through ‘The Truth Project’ at The Blue Point Bible Church. Professor Del Tackett has challenged us in regards to the battle involving “What is Truth”, what is the anthropology of man, what is a Biblical social environment, what is the role of government, and finally this week we discussed “The American Experiment”.

The whole gist of ‘The Truth Project’ is to combat the ‘Post-modernism’ that has seemingly pervaded American culture. Simply put, Postmodernism is the rejection of absolute truth, holding all truth as relevant, or more likely, you have your reality and I have mine. This “question everything” mentality surely has a lot of good quality in it (in line with 1 Thessalonians 5:21), however with lack of education, hypotheticals, and subjective reasoning, this can be more harmful than edifying.

In Lesson 10, “The American Experment”, Professor Tacket places the beginning of the rise of ‘secular humanism’ with Darwin’s, Origin of the Species in 1859. The rise of men like John Dewey, Charles Eliot, and Christopher Columbus Landell brought challenge to the way education was done, and surely brought challenge to the arena of “scientific education”.

As a Bible believing Christian who has seen the church gone awry clinging to false doctrines, putting a ‘misplaced hope’ in the councils, creeds, and confessions instead of “search the Scriptures”, I see nothing wrong with challenging the traditional teachings, and surely do not see this as a bad thing. Yet this is exactly what many intend to demonize when they speak about the shift in ‘public education’, teaching of ‘evolution’ in school, etc…

Let me be abundantly clear here. As a Christian who has an unyielding faith in the truth of Scripture, I am not afraid of the ‘critical thinking’ this postmodern world has to offer. I don’t believe it is society’s job to “make known the manifold wisdom of God”, but rather the Church. It is the Church’s job to “demolish every argument and stronghold set up against the ‘knowledge of God’ (2 Corinthians chapter 10). The Christians, the Church, should be affecting the nation they live in, yet our country is the “heavenly country” (Hebrews 11:16; i.e., the New Jerusalem) which knows no earthly borders. I flee from the “Christianizing” of any nation which then confuses itself with being “the city on the hill” of Matthew 5:14.

Yes, George Washington indeed did say, “If one claims to be a patriot, yet denies Christ Jesus, this man is worse than an infidel” and yes, Princeton’s founding statement was “Cursed is all learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.” and it has been since changed.

Why has this happened? Is it as horrible as many think it is? Is it the ‘end of the world’?

Historical study of the founding documents of this nation, think of the Mayflower Compact, Constitution of the New England Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance, and the Aricles of Confederation of 1643- clearly show the Christian foundations of America. There is no doubt there.

Yet just as Galileo Galilee looked into his microscope and saw something that seemingly contradicted what the ‘Christian tradition’ had to say, so we see the same today. I say let’s enjoy the freedom which comes with a responsibility to be the ‘light of the world’.

I believe the “lazy Christian” not only wants to settle for “Church doctrine” that contradicts Scripture, but also wants to make being an “American” synonymous with being a “Christian”. The less of a distiction between the two, the less fruit one must produce to be found a Christian.

Ultimately, it is time for the Church to be the Church. The blurring of the lines between the Church and America has created confusion and hostility. The Church should reserve the right to make decisions and live in light of Scripture and we should encourage others, however the Church sitting at the sidelines yelling at the “State” to follow Christian standards really needs to stop.

The fact is, Obama is not the president of the Nation I am apart of. As Shane Claiborne so eloquently and simplistically puts it, “Jesus for President”. I believe there is much strength to be sought in allowing America to follow the “postmodernism” that leads it, therefore offering the Church a moment of clarity on their role and position in this world.

I know America had Christian foundations, to argue against this is to be historically ignorant. However, I see the good news in the “end of Christian America” as Gabe Lyons put it in his book, The Next Christians.

Let the distinctions be clear- the Church is to be the Church, set apart by the truth of Jesus Christ, and America is to be America- the land of the free.

DON’T YOU DARE REFER TO AMERICA AS THE “CITY ON A HILL”!

Revelation 2:5 reads, “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lamp stand out of its place- unless you repent”. I’ll say it like this: It is nothing short of blasphemous to equate this verse with a nation with borders, this was primary applied to the Church at Ephesus, and could only be applied to the Church.

Walk worthy saints.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

“One thing that’s clear in the Scriptures is that the nations do not lead people to peace; rather, people lead the nations to peace.” – Shane Claiborne, Jesus for President

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Two Controversial Passages (1 Thessalonians 4 & Romans 11)

I must say from the outset that having Dr. Don K. Preston as a teaching within the “Full Preterist Movement” with all of his debates, articles, and books are an invaluable resource at our disposal. In the last 2 days, I have finished reading through “We Shall Meet Him in the Air” which provided a commentary on 1 Thessalonians and I listened to his debate with Dr. Michael Brown over Romans chapter 11. You can listen to that debate by visiting the following link:

http://thefulfilledconnection.com/Preston_Brown.html

First, let us deal with 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. Don Preston makes a great statement which I believe is necessary for us to understand at the outset:

“If a given interpretation of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 cannot be found in the OT prophetic hopes of Israel that interpretation is false. Paul said his eschatological doctrine was nothing other than what was promised in Moses and the Prophets”.

In Romans chapter 9, we read that the promises were given to Israel of the flesh, and then in chapter 15 we read the the Messiah came to fulfill the promises given to Israel of the flesh and it doing so would cause the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy. The Apostle Paul accounts again and again that he preaches nothing other than those promises that were given by the Law and the Prophets (Acts chapter 24; chapter 26; and in chapter 28 he refers to this as ‘the hope of Israel’).

That sets the precedent for what we read of the apostle Paul writing to the church at Thessalonica. Christ had ascended into the Spiritual temple in the heavens and would come “out of the Temple” and restore God’s presence to the people whom He promised. This “soteriological Temple” would restore God’s presence, fulfill the “resurrection promises” given to Israel in passages such as Isaiah chapters 2-4; Ezekiel 37, and Daniel chapter 9.

We must interpret 1 Thessalonians in light of the fact that it is a reiteration of God’s Old Covenant promises to Israel. To tabernacle among men (Revelation 21:3)

Let’s take a moment to look at the context being given throughout the letter to the Thessalonians. In 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, speaks about the ‘coming of the Lord’ that they were awaiting which would rescue them from “the wrath to come”. This is the wrath/ rescue that was spoken of by John the Baptist in Matthew chapter 3, and is referenced from Isaiah 40:10-11 and Jeremiah chapter 15.

In reading through 1 Thessalonians chapters 2-3, one must ask – “Where did Paul get the idea that persecution was appointed to them, and what is the connection to “the day of the Lord”? I would offer a cross referencing Matthew 24:9.

1 Thessalonians 3:13 is a cross reference from Zechariah chapter 14. I must be honest at this point. I personally have not had enough time to come to a firm and foundational understanding of Zechariah chapter 14 that I am comfortable with. I know Don Preston has various articles and videos that have dealt with the context of Zechariah chapter 14. Various other commentators have placed Zechariah 14 as fulfilled in AD 70. Here is a link that will take you to some of that information.

http://donkpreston.com/the-eschatology-of-zechariah-14-1/

Former full preterist Bible teacher, Frank Speer had written a great article about the context of 2 Thessalonians chapter 1 titled “To Me or Not To Me?” (which I can get you an emailed copy of upon request). Don makes a great point in explaining that Galatians chapter 4 is a direct commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1.

Sure enough, the fact that some had believed that Christ had already returned. As Don Preston rightly puts it, “If the Day of the Lord is an earth burning, time ending, cosmos destroying event, when every human who has ever lived comes out of the grave, how could anyone convince anyone that it had already occurred?”. We also see the same issue with those who believed the resurrection of the dead had already occurred.

When we get to the “man of sin’ metioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, we must look to the first century, during the time of the “Abomination of Desolation. This is still a topic I am willing to re investigate since I have heard a couple plausible options.

You may have noticed that I skipped right past 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 as I was going through various passages. I did this on purpose to establish the context in which we find the famous “rapture” passage in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. A grammatical error that takes place in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 and is muchly ignored is that the text should read “through Christ” not “in Christ” (dia Christos not en Christos). Reading this along with Ephesians 4:8 establishes who those who died through Christ were. We are reading about the ‘vindication of the martyrs” in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. This is a promise referenced in Judges chapter 5 and Psalms chapter 68.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:15, the Apostle Paul mentions that which He knows from the “word of Lord”, which scholars agree is Jesus speaking in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew chapter 25 and Luke 21). I have a chart that I have kept in the back of my Bible which shows the ‘verse-by-verse’ comparison of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4; Matthew chapter 24, and 1 Corinthians 15. If you are interested in obtaining this- please let me know.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:15, the Apostle Paul uses the term “apatesis” in Greek to say that the saints will “meet” Christ in the air (a point we will get to in a moment). Don Preston notes that, “The terms parousia and apantesis as technical terms as used and understood in the first century world, negates the idea of a removal of Christians from the earth….The terms parousia and apantesis…were used in the ancient world to speak of a king or royal dignitary that was to make a visit to a given city. As he approached the city for his visit (his parousia), the citizens of that city, being watchful for him, would, when his entourage was sighted, leave their city and go out and meet (apantesis) him. They would then escort him back to their city. The city was the destination of the dignitary”.

This is speaking about the coming of the Lord and the New Jerusalem as referenced in John chapter 14 and Revelation chapters 21-22.

Also, the term used for air, aer in Greek”, is a symbol of the heavenly or Spiritual realm (see, Ephesians 2:2, 6:12; 2 Corinthians 10;11). Ultimately what we are reading about is the Spiritual death of the martyrs and they life they awaited when Christ would be victorious in defeating Satan. This was detailed and expressed through the historical events of AD 70. Obviously, the context of the passage, and the proper understanding of Greek terms used shows that the common view taught about some metaphysical transformation occurring in the near future is completely false and is a false doctrine being perpetuated in many churches.

Another passages used by many who believe that the Full Preterist view is wrong is found in Romans chapter 11. As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog, Don Preston debated Dr. Michael Brown on this passage earlier this week. Herein I will share some of my notes from that debate.

Dr. Michael Brown started out with the premise that the modern church has become arrogant by saying that God is finished with ‘national Israel’ and has fostered the rise of supersecessioism and ‘replacement theology”. Now, I agree with Dr. Brown this was an issue that was being dealt with through the time of the first century when the promises that had been given to Israel of the flesh (see, Romans chapter 9) were being fulfilled. Many within the church thought that God had given up on Old Covenant Israel, but as Christ promised “heaven and earth would not pass away UNTIL all is fulfilled”.

Understanding the phrase “heaven and earth” and how that related to Israel could help very much in this discussion. However that did not come up. Clearly, Dr. Michael Brown does not understand the hermeneutic continually used throughout Scripture using metaphors and idioms. Throughout the debate with Dr. Preston, Dr. Michael Brown continually made the following statement, “Well if the words have any meaning…”- when he was trying to imply that the plain/natural reading must be read. Instead, I would reply that context and genre of the prophetic writing determines how the word should be defined. For example, Dr. Brown brought up the fact that Scripture promises that there will be no more war, and when did “swords get turned into plow shares”. In reading through passages such as Isaiah chapter 2, we understand the prophetic significance of what would be accomplished through the Messiah. Yes, Israel was used to defending their kingdom by constantly turning “plowshares” into “swords”, however when the Messiah brings forth the kingdom of God- Jesus will be the peace. The war will no longer occur- because all the enemies of God will be defeated through the glory of the Messiah. This is essentially the Biblical gospel of what occurred through the Messiah. It seems that Dr. Brown also fails to understand the context and usage of the term “death” as used throughout Scripture. Instead of the terms having no meaning within the Preterist understanding, it is the direct opposite- the words are FULL OF MEANING!

In response to this Don made a great point that the hermeneutic principle (interpretation took) that he uses is the fact that those in the Old Testament saw through “a veil” and did not grasp the full meaning of what God was saying through the prophecies, as the Apostle Paul says many times “the mystery was kept hidden”. However, we believe the Apostles did have that full understanding of what was being revealed in that time that had not been revealed before (Ephesians 3:4-5).

Another topic that Dr. Brown had brought up was the he believes the “restoration of all things” has not occurred. This runs in direct contradiction to what is spoken of occurring in those “last days” by the Apostle Peter in Acts chapter 3, what the Apostle Paul said about his generation being those who “upon whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:11), and what the writer of Hebrews understood as the “time of reformation”. This was happening in the time of transition occurring in the first century and was all summed up in the events of AD 70. God’s presence was restored! The end of the age in correlation to the destruction of the Temple as spoke of by Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 24, occurred in AD 70! And that “time of reformation” surely occurred when the Old Covenant completely passed away and the New Covenant was fully consummated at the destruction of physical Jerusalem (see, Galatians 4:24-30).

Dr. Preston did a great job of bringing force the Biblical context of Romans 11;25-27. A proper reading and context surely brings an agreement that Romans 11 is speaking about promises and prophecies that were given to ‘ethnic Israel’, the Apostle Paul makes this quite clear both before in Romans chapter 9 and after in Romans chapter 15.
In Romans chapter 11:25-28, we read:
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery- so that you will not be wise in your own estimation- that a partial hardening has happened in Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has com in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob”. “This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins”. From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers”.

Follow my logic here for a moment….. God made promises to the fathers, one of them being that He will save them from their sins (“their sins”which under covenant eschatology we understand comes from The Law and produces “the death”.). During the time awaiting the parousia, there was a “partial hardening” in Israel, allowing the Gentiles to come into covenant relationship with God, this partial hardening is to occur in an effort that “all Israel will be saved”. Keep in mind that the apostle Paul also taught that “All Israel is not Israel”, therefore it would be a remnant that would receive the benefits of the fathers. Some of those who had yet to repent were under the “hardening” and would eventually come into the truth of Jesus Christ- when the fullness of the Gentiles came in. That simply what Romans 11 is establishing.

Don Preston urges that we know the “prophetic background” that is being utilized in Romans chapter 11. Isaiah 59:20. Read Isaiah 59 and see the direct context about Israel’s separation from God and that which He will save them from. When He takes away “transgression”-sin. When does the prophet Daniel say sin will be taken away in Daniel chapter 9. At the end of the 70 weeks, that is another whole discussion we can have about the ministry of Christ and the events of AD 70.

I have just shown you a direct reference to AD 70 being made in Romans chapter 11. So where would we logically place the fulfillment?

As is common in Full Preterist discussions with “futurists”, Dr. Brown continually kept returning to the point that he was trying to make that those in “Israel” today are still hardened to the gospel, the gospel is still being brought to the ends of the earth, and we will have no more enemies. I would clearly show that “national Israel” found there end in AD 70, and what has become known as “Israel” today is not that which the Bible speaks. It can clearly be shown that according to Biblical testimony the gospel HAD been brought to “all nations” by the late AD 60’s. And as far as enemies, one must wonder if Dr. Brown has read and is familiar with Christ being the “peace” that turns enemies into “one new man” that is written about in Ephesians chapters 2-3.

In conclusion to all that was debated, Don explained that God never intended to save the entirety of Israel. God has always saved a remnant. In Amos chapter 5, God clearly says that a part of Israel will NEVER rise. Romans chapter 10 gives us the precursor to the “all Israel” being saved in Romans chapter 11 fulfilled. 

If someone asked my overall review, I would say that Dr. Don Preston did a great job of showing the “prophet background” contained within Romans chapter 11. Dr. Brown fails for one reason or anyone to see the context of the Biblical gospel, especially in regards to Israel and her last days. It seemed that Dr. Preston out of respect and humility held back from forcefully saying that the majority of those in “Israel” today are not the Israel of the Bible. What we know as Israel today is a mixed multitude that has by and large converted to secular Judaism. Plain and simple, this is not the Israel of “the fathers”.

Well that about sums up this evenings thoughts. I hope that my messages have not been overbearing, but have served to encourage you to read through and study these details.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

 

 

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Resurrection of the Dead Ones

Throughout the months of April/ May I preached sermons based on the “resurrection of the dead ones” a topic we find discussed specifically in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, Romans chapter 8, Philippians chapter 3, and 2 Corinthians chapters 3-5 to name a few passages. You can listen to that series on podcast by clicking on the following link:

www.buzzsprout.com/11630

For the past couple months I have spent time investigating the resurrection of the dead. I have studied the traditional view (futurist) and have found it wanting. Let’s be clear that we are talking about the the “eschatological resurrection” that was coupled with the “coming of the Lord”.
Earlier today, I sent the following group email to those on my email list detailing Daniel chapter 9 and explaining the connection between Daniel 9 and the “resurrection of the dead”.
“Recently I finished reading through quite a few of Don Preston books detailing the resurrection. I started with “Seal up Vision and Prophecy”, and then moved on to “70 Weeks Determined for the Resurrection”, both which deal with the context of Daniel chapters 9 and 12. I have had discussion with others at The Blue Point Bible Church regarding the details of Daniel 9 and 12 and therefore want to share some of my notes. I will admit upfront, I am still challenging myself in these regards. I have about 3 more books I want to read on the topic- “Daniel in the Preterist’s Den” which will mos[5t likely be a challenge to my Preterist position (there is your reminder to always be willing to challenge your current paradigm), also a book by Jessie Mills detailing the book of Daniel, and I am going to re-review Duncan Mackenzie’s book/commentary on Daniel.

Here is the text we are specifically talking about:
“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish trangression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place (Daniel 9:24)”.

Obviously the first thing any read of the text wants to do is immediately begin counting the seventy weeks. In verses 25-27, we are given a sort of time line of fulfillment. The clear start is when the ‘decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem…” which was between 458 B.C. To 445 B.C (read about this in Ezra chapter 7 when Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, gave this decree.
Seventy times seven would be 490 years and many commentators have noted that this brings the reader remarkably close to the date of Jesus’ public ministry, however others have noted that the numbers may be symbolic.

Here are some quotes from Don Preston and some others:

“Simply put, we believe the seventy week period is an indivisible unit. Jehovah gave the starting point, He gave the ending point. Chronological exactness is not the point. As Goldingay, certainly no preterist ,says, “The number 490 is not an arithmetical calculation to be pressed to yield chronological information. It is a figure that puts together two symbolic figures, the seventy years ( a lifetime) of Jeremiah 25:11/ 29:10 and the sevenfold chastisement of Leviticus 26:28. The result is a doubly symbolic figure extending from the beginning of the chastisement in the exile to whenever its seen as ending”.

“The 70 weeks embraces the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70 and there’s no way to fit that in chronologically”. -Jim McGuiggan; Commentary on Daniel

“…the seventy weeks are not absolute mathematical markers. But the passage, while not giving mathematical precision does provide a definite terminus a quo (point from which to begin), and a terminus ad quem (point up to, or ending)….The terminating point of the prophecy is to be shown to be the destruction of Jerusalem as foretold by the Lord in Matthew 24, and settled by his own quotation from Daniel’s prophecy in verse 15- and from this, to the believer in Christ, there can be no appeal”. -Foy Wallace

“It matters not whether we understand the “math” of the seventy weeks. If the elements foretold in the prophecy include the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, then we must submit to that “calculation”. This demonstrates that the seventy weeks were not to be calculated mathematically, but it is a symbolic period of time marked by a beginning point, interim events, and a consummation point, the final destruction of the Old Covenant world in AD 70”. -Don Preston 

Also, there are some who posit that the fulfillment of Daniel took place during the time of the Maccabees, which is in contrast to how first century Jewish historian Josephus would have viewed is and how Jesus would have viewed the prophecy since He points to it in the future of His generation in Matthew chapter 24.

Josephus writes:

“In the very same manner Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman government, and that our country should be made desolate by them”.

Jesus spoke a bit more specifically when He said:

“Therefore when you see the ‘Abomination of Desolation’ which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:15-16)”.

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are the days of vengeance ,so that all things which are written will be fulfilled (Luke 21:20-22)”.

Therefore, with a bit of information from history, it should not be hard to understand that this “Abomination of Desolation” “… happened in A.D. 66 when Cestus Gallus surrounded Jerusalem, or in A.D. 68 when the Zealots and Idumaeans broke into the city and killed over 8500 people in the Temple area”. 

Yet sadly, due to misinterpretation and a ‘futuristic’ paradigm, many have taken then position that this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled- completely ignoring that fact that Jesus was speaking to a direct audience and warning them “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies”. The views posited by Iranaeus and his student Hippolyptus dating back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries are in error and have no “contextual justification”. As Don Preston notes, “The very idea of a God that planned and predicted the establishment of the kingdom, at a given time in history, and sent His Son to accomplish that, only to see Him fail, is surely one of the most shameful theological concepts ever invented”

For example, as Don Preston notes:

“Peter affirmed that Israel’s last days, and the attendant blessings, were present in his day. Citing Joel 2:28 following the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Peter said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel (Acts 2:15). Sadly, the millenialists are willing to say that “Virtually nothing that happened in Acts 2 is predicted in Joel 2. This means that Peter’s ‘This is that’ actually means, “This is not that””.

So, I believe there is enough evidence to show that this prophecy was speaking about the Roman armies coming in bringing “the wrath of God” upon His people and their city. Now, I want to briefly lay out the Spiritual significance of this event.

TO MAKE ATONEMENT
Don Preston notes: “Daniel was told that seventy weeks were determined to make atonement. What many seem to miss is that the atonement for sin would not be consummated until the parousia of Jesus, at the end of the Old Covenant age of Israel! In Hebrews 9 the writer calls attention to the typological/ prophetic nature of the ministry of the High Priest. The Old Temple was a type of of the heavenly Temple, and the High Priestly services were a shadow of Jesus’ spiritual services (Hebrews 9:6, 24). Thus, Jesus appeared at the end of the age to sacrifice Himself (Hebrews 9:26). He entered into the Most Holy Place to offer Himself as a sacrifice (Hebrews 9:24, and He would appear again the second time for salvation (Hebrews 9:28)”.
“At what point of time on the Day of Atonement did Israel know that God had accepted their worship? Was it when the sacrifice was killed? No, that was the initiation of the process. Was it when the high priest entered the Most Holy Place? No, that was the ‘mid-point’ of the process, and a time of fearful waiting on the part of the congregation gathered outside the Temple”.

“The reference to Christ’s return to those who wait for Him draws its force in this context from the analogy with the sequence of events on the Day of Atonement. The people waited anxiously outside the sanctuary until the High Priest emerged from the Most Holy Place after he had fulfilled his office (Leviticus 16:17). His reappearance provided reassurance that the offering had been accepted by God

Simply put…. “If the atonement could not be perfected until the parousia of Christ, and if the parousia of Christ was in AD 70…then patently, this means that the seventy weeks could not have been completed 35 years before A.D. 70”.

TO FINISH TRANGRESSION

In the first century, Jesus was making it very clear that Israel was to “fill up the measure of their sin” in places like Matthew 23:29; Luke 11:49 and seen within the context of 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16. Don Preston again notes: “The filling up of the measure of sin/ suffering was not to be completed until the number of martyrs was filled up, and the city guilty of that persecution- Babylon of Revelation- had completed filling the measure of her guilt (Revelation 6:9-11; 17:6; 18:20)”.

PUTTING AWAY OF SIN

The Old Testament context and passage that speaks about when the sins would be taken away from Israel is Isaiah chapter 27, which speaks of when her altars are destroyed. When after Jesus Christ were the altars of Israel destroyed? That’s right folks, in AD 70. Also, in 1 Corinthians chapter 15:54-56, the Apostle Paul details the last enemy to be destroyed- “the death”- which came from The Law- which gave power to “the Sin”. Therefore, when that which gave power to The Law was destroyed- the sin and the death would be destroyed, amen? This should remind us of Daniel chapter 12- the Temple and the City was the ‘power of the holy people’.

 SEALING UP OF VISION AND PROPHECY

I quoted Luke 21:22 above to give context to Daniel 9 as speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, however the verse also offers more insight. This would be the fulfillment of ALL THAT WAS WRITTEN- which includes but is not limited to the prophecies recorded in the book of Daniel.

The “jots and tittles” that made up the Law of Moses (Matthew chapter 5) were in the process of being fulfilled, the Old Covenant was waxing old (Hebrews 8:13) but had not yet passed until all things were fulfilled. Milton Terry noted, “The sealing up of vision and prophet implies the confirming and fulfilling of all the sacred oracles that had spoken of the great day of the Lord and the glorious age to follow, in which the earth would be full of the knowledge of the Lord”.

Don Preston accounts that:
“The Bible gives the divine interpretation of the meaning of ‘seal up vision and prophecy’. In Matthew 24:15 Jesus cites Daniel 9 as the source of His prediction of the coming Abomination of Desolation. The parallel passage in Luke 21:20 reveals the Abomination of Desolation to be, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies”. Then in verse 22 our Lord says, “For these be the days of vengeance that all things which are written may be fulfilled”.

WHAT ABOUT….EVERLASTING RIGHTEOUSNESS?

“Righteousness is a covenantal concept and is not a matter of rocks and trees. It has to do with man’s standing before God, not how green the grass is or how clean the water is”. – Don Preston

In Israel, righteousness stood far away (Isaiah 59:14) and their righteousness was as “filthy rags”. The Law was given to “increase transgression (sin)” which showed Israel their lack of righteousness and their “death”. It is through understanding “the death” of Adam by which we see the importance of ‘righteousness’. The ‘resurrection of the dead’ would be a reversal of this ‘death’ and lack of righteousness which would be revealed through the Messiah (1 Corinthians 15:21). It is explained by the Apostle Paul that righteousness could not be achieved by the Law (Galatians 3:20-21), however in contrast to the Law, many were waiting for the revealing of the “hope of righteousness” as we see promised by the prophet Daniel. The righteousness of God was being revealed through Jesus Christ as was written to the Romans:

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe…(Romans 3)”.

The Law and the Prophets promised “everlasting righteousness” as did Jesus Christ, and it was understood that way to be something that would be accomplished through “the new heavens and new earth” (2 Peter 3:13). It is at this point that I must instruct you to get a firm grip on what the “heavens and earth” were according to Scripture (I will assure you it is not the physical heavens and earth that must change, instead it was the covenant that needed to be changed, as I believe I have expressed through this writing alone). It was the Law that brought forth sin and death, therefore in the “new heavens and new earth” there would be no curse as promised in Revelation 21-22.

I believe the words of the ‘Prince of Preachers’ (Charles Spurgeon) are fitting here: “Did you ever regret the absence of the burnt-offering, or the red heifer, or any one of the sacrifices and rites of the Jews? Did you ever pine for the feast of tabernacle, or the dedication? No, because, though these were like the old heavens and earth to the Jewish believers, they have passed away, and we now live under the new heavens and a new earth, so far as the dispensation of divine teaching is concerned. The substance is come, and the shadow has gone: and we do not remember it (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. xxxvii, p. 354)”.

There ya have it, my brothers and sisters. Daniel chapter 9- FULFILLED! We are now living in the NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH WHERE RIGHTEOUSNESS DWELLS!

“Daniel 9 is a definitive text in the study of eschatology. It gives a positive terminus ad quem (ending point) of all miraculous activity. It dispels all eschatological speculation so rampant in every generation. It allows us to correlate and accept, without wild rationalization, the chronological language of imminence in the New Testament that predicted the coming of the kingdom and the parousia of Jesus in His generation”. -Don Preston

As I was studying through these notes, I came across the following website that details the fulfillment of Daniel 9 in AD 70 as well. Enjoy.

http://www.themoorings.org/apologetics/prophecy/AD70/Dan9.html”:.

In addition to reading about Daniel chapter 9, I also spent time reading through “We Shall Meet Him in the Air: The Wedding of the King of Kings” by Don Preston. In “We Shall Meet Him..”, Dr. Preston deals with the “death of Adam” and offers a commentary on 1 Thessalonians.

In order to attain a proper understanding of the resurrection, as with many of the important Biblical topics, we must start at the beginning of the Bible. Understanding the ‘narrative theology’ that runs through the Scriptures is vital.

It in in his letter to the Corinthians that the Apostle Paul explains the resurrection and brings us back to the “death of Adam”.

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22)”.

We must go back to the garden and gain an understanding of how “all” in Adam died. In Genesis 2:16-17, we read about God telling Adam that “in the day you eat (of the tree of knowledge of good and evil) you shall surely die”. So the question is…..how did Adam die in the day he ate of the tree? He lived biologically for another 900 years, so biological death isn’t the point. As we follow the story, the “type of death” being spoken about and alluded to in “resurrection passages” becomes all the more clear. For example, read through Isaiah chapter 25 and Hosea chapter 13 and determine the “death” being spoken of. What type of resurrection is being spoken of? Is it a stretch to say “national death”? Therefore, when 1 Corinthians 15 uses those verses to support the resurrection it speaks of- WHAT RESURRECTION IS THAT?!?!? Wouldn’t it be the same ‘death’ and ‘resurrection’ as in the passages being used to support the Apostle Paul’s doctrine? What death does Romans 6:23 speak about?

So that establishes the “death” for us. How everyone has become so obsessed with forcing “biological death” on the passages is just WRONG. Now, watch this.

When would the resurrection from this death occur? I established Daniel chapter 9 in the email I shared with you above- which pointed to the literal/historical events as well as Spiritual realities that occurred in AD 70 (The Jewish-Roman War). Go ahead and Read Daniel chapter 12. This passage speaks about “The Time of the End”, the “time of distress such as never occurred since their was a nation until that time”- when there would be the judgment when the book of life is opened- the resurrection of those in the “dust” will occur, and “those who have insight will shine brightly…”. This will be “as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people”. What is the power of the holy people in the time of Daniel? The city Jerusalem and the Temple! This is exactly what Jesus spoke about in Matthew chapter 24 & Luke 21. Go ahead and read that. Notice I am just giving you things to read- yet those things are saying exactly what I believe.

When you think of the current teachings about the “resurrection of the dead”, we are forced to immediately conjure up images of a zombie apocalypse- which I believe God could surely do, however the passages are not speaking about anything even remotely close to that. Instead, metaphor and “prophetic terms” are being used throughout.

The “death” was “national death” the Israel underwent when they violated the covenant (relationship agreement) they had with God. This was called the Law of Moses a.k.a. The Old Covenant. An example you can see in Scripture would be in Isaiah chapter 25 and Isaiah chapter 49.

Under this covenant which was given to “increase sin”, Israel experienced a blessing and a curse. Sin/ transgression of the Law would bring forth “covenantal death”. As per 1 Corinthians 15, resurrection is the time of the deliverance from sin (1 Corinthians 15:54-56). This is the story of Adam all over again. Thus this is referred to as being “in Adam”. Jesus Christ was the first to be raised from the death of Adam (1 Corinthians 15:19). The fact that the passage says that Christ was the “first” is a clue into what sort of death and resurrection we are speaking about. What Christ the first to be raised biologically? Go ahead and read 1 Kings 13:2; 1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4; Luke 7:13-15; Matthew 9:25; and John 11:43-44. Houston, we have a problem!

I choose to acknowledge that Christ is true, the Scriptures are trustworthy therefore am able to properly “prove” that the “death” that this speaks of with importance is not biological death. The text literally reads “out of the dead ones” which is from Sheol/Hadean realm to LIFE ETERNAL. Christ was the first to raise out of this death, as the others awaited the time of judgment/ vindication/ resurrection. Again, pointing out the significance of a sign which points to something of greater significance – Jesus’ physical/ biological resurrection was the ‘sign of Jonah’ (Matthew 12:39; 16:2; and John 20:30 to that “wicked generation”.

While we are on that topic, please allow me to share some thoughts on the “substitutionary death of Christ”. When Jesus cried out about God forsaking Him in Matthew 27:46 was a citation from Psalm 22:1. I ask you to read through Psalm 22 and tell me what “death” is being spoken of there. This is the “death” that Christ died on behalf of the people in passages such as Romans 5:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13, and 1 Peter 3:18. THE DEATH THAT IS BEING SPOKEN ABOUT IS THE DEATH THAT COMES BECAUSE OF SIN! WHEN JESUS WAS ON THE CROSS AND ‘SIN’ WAS PLACED ON HIM, HE DIED! HE DIED IN PLACE OF ISRAEL. HE DIED SO THAT NO MORE SACRIFICE IS NEEDED TO TRY AND ‘GAIN’ HIS PRESENCE. That is why the promises of John 3:15-16; John 3:36; John 6:50; John 10:28; and John 11:25-26 are valid. We will surely die biologically, however those of us alive in Spirit (born-again or simply born, allow me to avoid the semantics) will never die Spiritually.

James Jordan made this great statement:

“When the New Testament uses Old Testament citations we must go to the Old Testament to see what it meant in the Old Testament. We must interpret the Bible comparing Scripture with Scripture”

It is for that reason, that Full Preterists understand ‘death’ to be a covenant term meaning exile, alienation, and the cut off state from the presence of God. For example, death in Hosea 13:1 spoke about Assyrian captivity. In Isaiah 24:4 they had violated covenant relations with God, in Isaiah 27:7-8 they were sent away, and in Ezekiel 37:11, they were declared dead in captivity/ exile. Clearly, in the Old Testament exile is synonymous with death. Forgiveness is seen as a return from exile (Leviticus. 26:33; 26:43; 1 Kings 8:33-34; Lamentations 4:22; Isaiah 40:1-11; Jeremiah 31:10-12; Ezekiel 36:24).

In my sermon at the following link, I explain that the concern that the Apostle Paul is dealing with in 1 Corinthians 15 is “in what body will they come”.

http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/171089-so-have-the-dead-ones-been-raised-victory-part-2

It is necessary that we understanding the different bodies being contrasted in the New Testament. “The body of sin”, “humiliation” and death “in Adam” was Israel under the Old Covenant. We might dare to call it the Mosaic body (“body of Moses”) or Adamic body. Those who would be raised up to “eternal life” would come through the body of Christ. As Larry Siegle explained in his Fulfilled Dynamics broadcast, The TRUTH about ‘Bodily’ Resurrection, “One of the greatest misconceptions about the fulfilled perspective of the resurrection relates to the nature of it. The Bible teaches a bodily resurrection of the dead, contrary to the notion of some who seem to affirm “spiritual” resurrection instead what is not understood by some is the determination of the nature of the “body” under the construction”.

Well, it was RC Sproul who said in his book, The Last Days According to Jesus, “The greatest weakness of full preterism- and what I regard to be its fatal flaw- is its treatment of the final resurrection. If full preterism is to gain wide credibility in our time, it must overcome this obstacle”. Well, then….I pray that I have provided enough information to show you that the “resurrection of the dead” is hardly a weakness to the understanding the Biblical accurate position of Full Pretetrism.

I honestly, have so many more notes and details that I could mention, however maybe we can save that for further discussions. For further study, I would recommend the following resources:

First start with the sheets I gave you (below this article I have placed them) and simply read all the Bible passages I listed. With those in mind, set out to let the language of the Scriptures help you “prove which views are valid with Scripture. Check out Don Preston’s Morning Musing on Youtube entitled “Resurrection of the Dead”. I read “Seal up Vision and Prophecy”, “70 Weeks Determined for the Resurrection”, “We Shall Meet Him in the Air” all by Don Preston (you can order these either from Don’s website or through me by email). Also, a recent resource I have still yet to make my way through studying in the Summer 2013 issue of Fulfilled Magazine which detailed “Resurrection- What Is It?”. You can access that Magazine by visiting the following link:

http://fulfilledcg.com/Site/Magazine/magazine_previous_issues.htm

I gave out info. sheets to the congregation at Blue Point Bible Church with the hopes that they will aid others in explaining the Biblical hope (the resurrection of the dead ones as the hope of Israel and what that means for us). Below you will find a typed up style of those sheets.

What does the term “Nekroi’ mean?

Who are these “dead ones”? And how were they to be affected by the “resurrection”?

What is the “hope of Israel”?

What does the “resurrection of the dead ones” have to do with the gospel?

What is the cause of death of the “dead ones”? (Hint- Hosea 13:14; Isaiah 25:8; 1 Corinthians 15:

How would they (the dead ones) be “raised up”?

Have they been raised up?

What about “me”?

Good links:

www.tektonics.org/esch/rezwreck.php

www.bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/topical/bible-on-resurrection.htm

http://apostolicpreterist.com/Preterist_Q_A.html

www.ecclesia.org/truth/resurrection.html

“WITH WHAT KIND OF BODY”?

Www.beyondcreationscience.com/index.php?pr=Romans_8_in_Covenant_Context

www.buzzsprout.com/11633

Verses to consider:

Hosea 13; Isaiah 24-27; Daniel 9 & 12; Zechariah 14;1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 3; Romans 8; 2 Corinthians 3-5; 1 Thessalonians 4; Acts 3

“Israel suffered THE DEATH under THE LAW of Moses. The Messiah came to bring/ THE LIFE to Israel. Through the Messiah the GENTILES were called to repentance and were offered LIFE and were “raised up” to right standing with God. What was LIFE to them revealed JUDGMENT/DEATH to Old Covenant Israel. At the TIME OF REFORMATION the DEAD ONES would be “RAISED UP” to LIFE and the DEAD ONES along with THE LIVING would be ONE BODY (the body of Christ)” – GLORIFIED!”.

“If forgiveness in Christ is objectively real today, then the atonement is completed. Forgiveness is the direct result of the completed atonement. But if the atonement is complete, Christ has returned, the resurrection has occurred”.

 

I conclude this blog with thoughts by Don Preston

“The real question then, is not how the Gentile Christians in Thessalonica, Rome, Athens, etc, could find comfort in the fulfillment of God’s OT promises to Israel. The real question is how did the modern church get so far removed from understanding the relationship between Israel’s promises and Gentile salvation?”.

Indeed. Praise God for the modern recovery of the Biblical hope. Reformation NOW!

Blessings in and through Jesus Christ,

    Pastor Michael Miano

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www.bluepointbiblechurch.weebly.com

 

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How Do We “LITERALLY” Understand the Scriptures?

It Milton Terry who once wrote:

“We gain nothing for the honor of the Scriptures by attempting to force upon them a meaning they were never intended to convey’.

Recently I went to a local Bible study held at another church and the discussion was geared around “prophetic texts” of the Old and New Testament. As is commonly done, the pastor led the discussion of interpretation with a two-fold choice- literal or spiritual. He made sure to explain that he does not believe in what we may call “wooden literalism”. For example, Scripture teaches that the Lord is our rock (Psalm 18:2), yet we would not say that He is literally a rock- instead we understand the metaphor being used.

I have entertained many conversations about Biblical prophecies and the discussion of interpretation comes up many times. How many times have you heard, “Well, that is just your interpretation” and granted sometimes it very well could be. I know and am known myself for bringing up 2 Peter 1:20 which states:

“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation..”.

So from the outset we must recognize that we have no place to read Scripture and create our own version of what it says. Instead we must seek to understand what the original writer meant to say and how the original readers would have understood the writing. This is what we call “Audience Relevance”. Also, we must understand who the original audience was. This may come as a shock, hopefully not, but it may. The Bible was NOT written to YOU. Their was a direct audience for each of the writings. Let’s establish that.

The Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) are God’s revealed law and covenant with Israel.

Joshua, Judges, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles are all dealing with the history of Israel.

The prophets were proclaiming their words to Israel.

The “gospels” (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are the details of Christ’s ministry on earth to the none other than “the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 15:24).

The book of Acts is dealing with the proclamation of Christ to all the known world from Jerusalem to Rome- again the salvation of Israel.

The rest of the New Testament is writings from the Apostle Peter, the Apostle Paul, Jude the brother of Jesus, and John- all of whom proclaimed the same gospel (1 Corinthians 15: 1-11; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Ephesians 3:6), the ONE “hope of Israel”(Ephesians 4:4; Acts 28:20), and as the Apostle Paul proclaimed “saying nothing other than what which was written in the Law and the Prophets” (Acts 24:14; Acts 26:22).

To ignore the exclusivity to Israel in these writings to to completely miss the point of the gospel message and the proper understand of context.

Now that we have established “audience relevance” we can move on to the writings themselves. How do we properly understand the Biblical writings as the ancient Jews did? How do we LITERALLY understand these writings? 

Author David Chilton made the remark that “The Bible is literature; it is divinely-inspired and inerrant literature, but it is literature all the same. This means we must read it as literature…We cannot understand what the Bible really (literally) means unless we appreciate its use of literary styles”.

Therefore as authors Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn noted in their book, Beyond Creation Science:

“Speaking literally, the most “literal” interpretation is the one that is most in keeping with the “literature” we find in early Genesis…a true literal interpretation depends on the nature of the literature in question”.

In the Western Church especially we see so much confusion in this area. Intelligent men of God such as professor John Walton, Tim Martin, and Jeff Vaughn have begun the necessary reforms in the understanding of Ancient Near Eastern texts such as Genesis. Visit

http://www.wheaton.edu/Academics/Faculty/W/John-Walton and http://www.beyondcreationscience.com Also, men such as Dr. Don Preston, Larry Siegle, Joe Daniels, Jerry Bowers Jr., and many others have pushed for the necessary reforms of Full Preterism which points out that much of Biblical prophecy is not being understood in its proper phraseology nor historical context. Visit www.ChristHASCome.org & www.thefulfilledconnection.com

It’s only fair that I provide an example.
The Jews used a very symbolic, figurative language when describing events such as battle victories and deliverance from enemies.In Isaiah 13, we read that “every man’s heart will melt, pain and anguish will take hold of them, the stars of heaven and the constellations wil not flash, the Lord will come with cruel and burning anger, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not shed light” described as a “day of the Lord” fulfilled when Babylon was destroyed in 539 B.C. The Lord came into Egypt on a cloud, is language used in Isaiah 19 to depict the Lord’s judgment upon that nation that occured in 480 B.C. Isaiah chapter 34 gives us a chilling blood soaked coming of the Lord in wrath against the land of Edom which occured historically before 400 B.C.

When the prophets spoke about “the coming of the Lord” it depicted national judgment upon nations, so clearly this wasn’t a “new phrase” when used by Jesus to depict judgment upon Jerusalem- indeed the Apostles would have recognized the term. You will not find the term “Second Coming” in the Scriptures, except alluded to in places such as John 14 and Hebrews 9:28.

Yet, many today believe that this supposed “Second Coming of Christ” is going to happen in the future- “soon”- but “no one knows the day or hour”. Not only have modern Christians completely misunderstood the ‘literal’ meaning of the term “coming of the Lord” but “By having a preconceived concept of Christ’s second coming as the Jews did with His first coming, many have “overlooked” obvious texts, and found alternate meanings and interpretations”.

I conclude that much of what is being taught today about “the creation”, “the coming of the Lord”, “the time of the end”, “the resurrection of the dead ones” and many other Biblical topics (including the most important aspect- THE GOSPEL) is born out of theological and literary ignorance. We must seek to understand the langauge of the literature we are reaching- is it metaphor? Is it “prophetic”? Is it hyperbole? How did the ancients or first century Jews (and earlier) use certain phrases such as “heaven and earth”?

I end with this rebuke by Max King:

“Any method of interpretation is dangerous if it perverts the true meaning of scripture, and of course the ultimate test as to whether the true meaning of scripture has been ascertained, will be in the field of harmony and consistency. Any principle of interpretation that fails to advance harmony of thought and purpose in every related field of study must be considered as false. God’s eternal purpose is so constituted and unfolded in the scriptures, that the only right method of interpretation can be advanced entirely free of contradiction, inconsistency, or disharmony. The right method will not only meet the demands of the immediate scripture or context, but also of every related scripture or context”

Another link you can visit to learn more about proper Biblical interpretation is

http://www.eschatology.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1103:guest-article-bryan-lewis-on-proper-hermeneutics&Itemid=220

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

http://www.bluepointbiblechurch.org

http://www.christhascome.org

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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 friends, family. colleagues, 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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