Tag Archives: Gospel

THINKING THROUGH A NARRATIVE SOTERIOLOGY (#2)

INTRO

Back in May 2018, I offered up a #1 in what I knew would become a series of articles on narrative soteriology (an understanding of salvation as understood through the Biblical story). In this article, I will continue, prayerfully with increased clarity, outlining a narrative perspective on how we should gain understandings of salvation.

You can read article #1 at the following link, https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/thinking-through-a-narrative-soteriology-1/

NARRATIVE THEOLOGY

In detailing Narrative Theology, I explained that, “This interpretative style not only runs against the all too popular method of “proof-texting” (which lacks context), it also stands contrary to the historical- grammatical method of interpretation, the continuous-historical method, and the redemptive-movement method. Many have seemingly missed how these interpretative methods influence their own interpretations, not to mention the various principles that are outlined through each of the methods. However, the narrative-historical method of interpretation is no easy effort, and often requires detailed explanations (akin to storytelling), rather than the easy answers and superficial responses many have developed and offered up (either by assumption or “Tradition”).”

TOTAL DEPRAVITY?

I had mentioned two particular areas of theology that I have recently come to understand, which stand in contrast to some popular teachings I may have previously agreed with. For example, I had previously held to a presupposed understanding of “Total Depravity” as 16th century reformer John Calvin would have outlined it. In article # 1, I stated “It would seem that all throughout the Scriptures, man is beset by sin (weakened not necessarily dead), oftentimes wandering in idolatry (darkness).  So, it also seems that God brings forth His light (Truth), and it shines offering those to whom it shines the opportunity to pursue, walk toward, and dwell in it. The determining factor seems to be what man sets his mind on and pursues. Those with good and honest hearts, God strengthens and draws in through the Gospel (Luke 8:15). Those steeped in idolatry and leaning upon their own understanding (cf. Proverbs 3:5), being unreasonable and set against the Truth, God rewards in keeping with their idolatry, and so they stay stuck in darkness (cf. Proverbs 4:19; Ezekiel 14:4; John 3:19-20).”

“IN ADAM”

Also, as I have studied and developed this narrative understanding, and furthermore have highlighted a metanarrative (story within the story), I noted in article #1 that, “I am becoming more and more convinced that it is improper to develop a systematic approach to New Covenant soteriology based upon what was revealed in and through Adam (as I have previously said and asserted a few times). Namely, because what is revealed through the story of Adam is the story of the Old Covenant.” I am currently working on some teaching resources in regards to proper “In Adam” teachings.

What I would like to do in this #2 article is share two recent learning points I have been blessed with and offer an update on my understanding of some of the details that come from this conversation. To preface this detailed study, I’d like to share a point I made on my social media earlier today, “I promote what I would call an “effective Christian foundation”, which is not getting caught up in the minutia/ details of repentance, confession, baptism, and maturity – but rather putting together the Biblical narrative (in context) and applying the details that seem simple enough and convict us (granted this may change per Believer). That is not to say that I won’t entertain conversation and study about the details, nor seek further conviction regarding how they apply. However, my stake and claim is found in maturity, not the rudimentary principles of conversion.”

LEARNING POINTS

At The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch.org) we have been going through the details of the Exodus. This past Sunday I preached about the type and antitype of being “baptized into Moses”. The Apostle Paul emphasizes that this was an example upon them whom the end/goal of the ages had come (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11). In the sermon that I preached I detailed significant factors such as “audience relevance” putting the antitype of “baptism in Moses” to be the shift of the covenant (i.e., baptism in Moses represented the Old Covenant, and “baptism in Christ” represents the New Covenant) and the correlation of water and wind/spirit in Exodus chapter 14 and John 3:5. Interestingly enough, Pastor Steve, Pastor Emiritus at BPBC made a good point after the sermon, the baptism in Moses was “in the sea, and in the cloud” (cf. 1 Cor. 10), yet the Israelites did not get wet. The water was not the distinction, rather the work of God (God with them) was the distinction. As you outline and follow with understanding the type and antitype of this baptism, it would seem to highlight more of identification with the covenant rather than the mode of the baptism. You can listen to that sermon at the following link,  http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/785921-saturate-healing-the-historical-amnesia-in-the-church

Also, as we have been studying different aspects of God’s sovereignty and man’s ability in our Saturday Bible Study at BPBC, we came upon Ephesians  2:7, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He has loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved) and has raised us up together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus”.

This seems to highlight the points I have been making in regards to the need to not only pay attention to pronouns, but also in recognizing the time of the Elect to be the first century. From Ephesians 2:7 it would seem that God did something for the “us” He raised up in that time (“showing kindness toward” them) in an effort that in ages to come (NOW), through His Church (Ephesians 3:10), He would “show the exceeding riches of His grace”. Our understanding of God’s grace comes from looking back at the kindness He showed to His elect during that time of transition until the time of reformation (AD 70). I know Tony Denton’s resources have been encouraging and challenging in regards to the “transition time” and the details of salvation. Two verses Mr. Denton brings to mind are Luke 21:22 and Hebrews 9:15, and obviously there are a host more that really challenge us to contextually put together the narrative and then apply the details.

BAPTISM

Speaking of Tony Denton, he makes some interesting points that need to be considered when gaining an understanding of baptism as it relates to the time of transition. View his video at the following link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNt8-r14sOo

I have continued my studies and conversations with preacher Holger Neubauer in regards to baptism and have finally begun to offer up some conclusive remarks. In early August 2018, I shared with Holger that through my studies I have come to see the need to develop an “effective Christian foundation” in a Believer’s life rather than dwell upon the specifics. I am outlining this “foundation” as the need to hear the Gospel, repent, confess Jesus Christ, participate in water baptism as an emblem of faith, and mature in Christ. This is built upon the estimation that our goal is to create lives that love with a pure heart, maintain a good conscience toward God and others, and possess a sincere faith (cf. 1 Timothy 1:5).

This is not me developing some new understanding. Rather, this is based upon study of a few resources, some of which I am continuing, and therefore offering up an understanding in clarity of what I see to be a rather confused and lengthy study. For example, in his series, ‘Where’s The Water’, Dr. Kelly Nelson Birks explains and details the proper parsing of the verbs in regards to the Greek word used for baptism.  Dr. Birks charges that most interpretations of “water baptism” are based upon assumptions of water. Also, Garth Wierbe, an online Biblical commentator, in an article on baptism offered up the following insight, “If the Scriptures really wanted to emphasize or limit the meaning of baptism to what we do in “water baptism” they would have used “bapto” (in the Greek) not “baptizo”.” In reference to Acts chapter 2, Mr. Wierbe notes, “What are each of them to be baptized into? Into the pardoning of sin…And when will that happen? When they change their minds based on what was just preached to them about Jesus Christ”.

This seems to be more in line with what “one baptism” we mark out as important. Baptism in Christ is not and “in and out situation”, like water baptism, but rather an immersion into something that absorbs and transforms. Matter of fact, it is because I believe baptism into Christ to be so much more than “water baptism”, I was able to agree with Church of Christ preacher Steve Baisden, in his article ‘Baptism For What?’, when he stated, “If baptism for the remission of sin is all that is involved for a baptism to be valid, why then did Paul demand the disciples to be rebaptized (cf. Acts chapter 19)? After all, they were baptized for the remission of their sins (Mark 1:4)”.

Baptism into Christ is far more than a remission of sins, far more than an obsession with water, rather baptism in Christ is belief in and immersion/identification with Christ (cf. Mark 16:15-16), or a repentance from a false belief and identification with the name of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 2:38). In Romans chapter 10, the Apostle Paul says if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus (this is an act of repentance and confession/ belief) and shall believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (this is baptism/ immersion into/ identification with Christ, more than mere belief), you shall be saved”. Consider this, “For with the heart a man he believes in righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (cf. Romans 10:10) sounds a lot like the point Jesus Christ made in Matthew 15:18 (if what comes out of a man’s mouth defiles him; therefore, they must also be able to make him clean). Consider the following texts that seem to make the case for this understanding – 1 John 1:9; Matthew 10:32-33; 1 Timothy 6:12.  Furthermore, Hebrews chapter 6 seems to urge us to a maturity that is beyond foundational things (which includes but is not limited to details of baptism and the resurrection of the dead). A maturity which I believe is expounded upon by the things listed in  2 Peter chapter 1.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

A charge of “let us move on to maturity” does not necessarily limit the importance of these details nor disregard them, but rather places emphasis on the fact that these need not be the things that constantly set us in opposition. I know I will surely continue my studies in this area, and prayerfully continue to be blessed and challenged by conversations with brother Holger Neubauer.

Holger has charged that I am guilty of a “tautology”, which is an unnecessary repetition, is regards to my understanding of baptism. Sure enough this is an argument used by a Baptist to charge the need of Christian Baptism during the 1800’s. Richard Ingham, in his ‘Appeal To Friends on Christian Baptism’ remarked, “The supposition that Christ meant the baptism of the Spirit, …involves the most unnatural and improbable tautology”. You can read his statement and points at the following link, https://books.google.com/books?id=1FEqjQULJZYC&pg=PA40&lpg=PA40&dq=tautology+baptism&source=bl&ots=rUvJKZpIAu&sig=gdl7lGKljp577iPvFrTNDkS1llg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjj78iesZDdAhUynOAKHWCRAUkQ6AEwBHoECAYQAQ#v=onepage&q=tautology%20baptism&f=false

Mr. Ingham and Holger have charged that this understanding of baptism (to be immersed into the teachings of Christ) that it would therefore create the unnecessary statement of “make disciples and make disciples” in Matthew 28:19-20 or “believe and believe” in Mark 16:15-16. This is not so. The Greek words used in both passages, matheteo – teach, and pisteuo – believe –  mark out mental assent, whereas the word baptize means to be fully immersed. Therefore, what Christ is ultimately saying is, Go and tell the nations the Gospel, teaching them and lead them to confess and repent, and thereby make disciples by immersing them into the faith and the works of following after Jesus Christ. No tautology.

In reference to why I place “water baptism” into my understanding of an “effective Christian foundation”, is that there are passages where simply put, water does show up. I am still looking for solid answers in those regards. In my going through various studies on baptism, noting that different “camps” have different versions of what they mark out as baptism in the Bible, it becomes a convoluted argument and many times hard to assess how important water baptism is. For example, Holger Neubauer shared a great Facebook post regarding the 7 Baptisms in the Bible, I had mentioned to him finding a previous article that listed 7 other versions of baptism, and sure enough I just finished reading through Dr. Peter S. Ruckman’s version of the 7 Baptisms in the Bible. Yikes!

I believe as I mentioned above, that our role as Christians “making known the manifold wisdom of God” and bringing “healing to the nations” through the Water of Life, is to help create and foster lives that love with a pure heart, maintain a good conscience toward God and others, and possess a sincere faith (cf. 1 Timothy 1:5). Moving forward I will continue to assert and maintain my convictions of a an effective Christian foundation – Gospel proclamation, repentance, confess, water baptism, and maturity – and not get bogged down by details, but rather teaching these things aiming for clarity and conviction, neither allowing hypotheticals to become to norm (a great insight from Holger Neubauer).
Blessings in Christ,
Michael Miano, pastor
The Blue Point Bible Church

 

“Salvation is more than a profession of faith, or a dip in a baptisty, or a moral life, or conformity to external rules of religion. It’s more than _______________________ (fill in the blank). Salvation is the supernatural transformation whereby one is renewed inwardly and thereby transformed outwardly”. – Richard Belcher, Journey in Grace

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DISTURBING THE PEACE

An Overview Study on the Message of the Biblical Prophets

The Word of God is prophetic. In Genesis we find God declaring His first covenant with man and His declaration of sovereignty and ownership over everything He has created. In the Psalms we read of various cries to the Lord, each of which can resonate with us. In Revelation, we read of a vision given to John to warn the terminal first century generation of their end. Scripture is replete with prophets and prophetic words that demand examination to the edification of the Believer.

May the words of the prophets invigorate you and give you clarity regarding the Word of God.

(* Not intended to be exhaustive of every person that is or could be a Biblical prophet nor all the prophesies)

 

ADAM
“And the Lord God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man saying, ‘of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, do not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die’ (Genesis 2:15-17).

“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a help meet for him’ (Genesis 2:18).

“And Adam said, ‘This is now flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone, she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of man’. Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:23-25)

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took the fruit, ate, and also gave to her husband, and he did eat. And both of their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves  from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden (Genesis 3:6-8)

Curse Declarations:
“To the serpent…(Genesis 3:14-15)”
“To the woman…(Genesis 3:16)”
“To Adam…(Genesis 3:17-19)”

“For Adam and his wife, the Lord God made coats of skin, and clothed them…unless He eat of the Tree of Life and live forever, He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubims, and a flaming sword, to guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:21-24)

 

ABEL
“And the Lord said to Cain,….”The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground (Genesis 4:9-10)”.

“The blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, will be required of this generation. From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah…(Luke 11:50-51)”.

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaks (Hebrews 11:4)”.

“Ye have come unto Mount Zion…and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel (Hebrews 12:22,24)”.

 

ENOCH – means “dedicated”
“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him (Genesis 5:24)”.

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God has translated him: for before his translation he had testimony that he pleased God (Hebrews 11:5)”.

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these saying, “Behold the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him (Jude 14-15)”.

 

METHUSALEH – makes “death shall be sent”; lived the longest in OT
And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died (Genesis 5:27)”.

 

NOAH
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 6:8-10)”

“And , behold, I, and even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein there is breath of life, from under heaven, and everything that is in the earth shall die. But with you (Noah) I will establish my covenant, and you shall go into an ark, you and yours sons, your wife and their wives. And every living thing, two of every sort, you shall bring into the ark, to keep alive, they shall be male and female….And so Noah did everything the Lord had commanded him (Genesis 6:17-22; 7:1-9)”.

“And the Lord spoke to Noah, saying, ‘Go from the ark, you, your wife, and your sons wives, bring with thee every living thing that is with thee…that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth (Genesis 8:15-17)”.

“And Noah built an altar to the Lord: and took of every clean beast and every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet aroma, and the Lord said in His heart, ‘I will not again curse the ground for man’s sake, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, neither again will I kill every living thing, as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease’ (Genesis 8:20-22)”.

“And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth (Genesis 9:1)”.

“And God said, ‘This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a token between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: and I will remember my covenant which is between me, you, and every living creature, and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth (Genesis 9:12-16)”.

“By faith Noah, being warned by God of things not yet seen, moved with fear, prepared an ark  to the saving of his house ; by which he condemned the world, and became the heir of righteousness which is by faith (Hebrews 11:7)”.

 

ABRAM/ ABRAHAM  
“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Get out of this land, and from your family, and your father’s house, and go to a land I will show you: and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you, and in you shall all families of the earth shall be blessed. So Abram went, as the Lord has said to him…(Genesis 12:1-4)”.

“And the Lord said to Abram…’Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are to the north, the south, and east, and west: for all the land that you see, I will give to you and your seed forever. And I will make your seed as the dust of the earth: so that if any man can number the dust of the earth, then shall your seed be numbered (Genesis 13:14-16)”.

“And My covenant shall be with you, and you shall be the father of many nations. Neither shall your name be called Abram, but Abraham, for I have made you the father of many nations. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, kings shall come out of you. And I will establish my covenant between me, you, and your seed after you, in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you and your seed after you. And I will give you, and your seed after you, the land which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God (Genesis 17:4-8)”.

“Are you not our God, who did drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and gave it to the seed of Abraham, your friend, forever (2 Chronicles 20:7)”.

“And do not say within yourselves, ‘We have Abraham to our father: I say to you, that God is able to raise up children of Abraham out of these stones (Matthew 3:9)”.

“They answered and to said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father’. Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham (John 8:39)”.

“Know that those who are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached the Gospel to Abraham, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed. So then they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham (Galatians 3:7-9)”.

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29)”.

“By faith Abraham when he was called to go out of a place to a place that he shall receive as an inheritance, obeyed: and he went out not knowing where he was going. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as a stranger….he looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:8-10)”.

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac, and he that had received the promise offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac shall your seed be called’: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead: and he was received as a type (Hebrews 11:17-19)”.

“O will you know, oh vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered up Isaac upon the alter? See how his faith was with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which said, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God. You see then that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only (James 2:20-24)”.

 

MELCHIZEDEK – means “king of righteousness”
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth. And blessed be the most high God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave with tithes of all (Genesis 14:18-20)”.

“The order of Melchizedek” – Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:1-6; 7:1-28)

 

ISAAC
“And God said to Abraham, “Let it not be grievous in your sight because of the child, and because of your bondwoman, in all that Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice, for in Isaac your seed shall be called (Genesis 21:12)”.

 

JACOB – carried blessing of Abraham (cf. Genesis 28:3-4)
“And Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came upon a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun was set; and he took one of the stones  of that place and used it for a pillow, and laid down to sleep. And he had a dream, where he saw a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, ‘I am the Lord God of Abraham, your father, and the God of Isaac, and the land where you are laying, to you I will give it, and to your seed; and your seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west, the east, the north, and the south: and in you and your seed shall all families of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with you, and will keep you in the place where you go, and I will bring you back into this land, I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken to you’. And then Jacob woke up, and he said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place; and I didn’t know it’. And he was afraid and said, ‘How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the same stone he had for his pillow, and set it as pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of that city was called Luz at first (Genesis 28:10-10)”.

“And Jacob was left alone: and there he wrestled with a man until the breaking of day. And when he saw that he did not prevail against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, ‘Let me go for the day has broken’. And he said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me’. And he said to him, What is your name? and he said, Jacob. And he said, ‘Your name shall no more be Jacob, but Israel, for as a prince you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed’…And Jacob named the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved (Genesis 32:24- 30)”.

Jacob blesses his sons and prophesies of the last days – “Gather yourselves together so that I may tell you what will befall you in the last days (Genesis chapter 49)”.

 

MOSES – “Song of Moses” (cf. Exodus chapter 15) the entirety of the law and the Old Covenant are understood to be the prophetic words of Moses

SAMUEL
He tried to persuade Israel that they did not want a king and kingdom like the nations around them (1 Samuel chapter 8)

 

ELIJAH
Elijah was known as the “troubler of Israel” (cf. 1 Kings 18:17) and challenged Ahab and the false prophets of Baal to what seemed like a duel. Of course the One True God showed His power and demonstrated the falsehood of Baal worship (1 Kings chapter 18).

 

JOEL
Spoke about the “Day of the Lord”  – a day of visions, judgement, and the Spirit of God being poured out (cf. Acts chapter 2).

 

HOSEA
Spoke of judgement and resurrection; married adulterous wife to exhibit sins of people, Israel.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. ‘Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your children (Hosea 4:6)”.

 

ISAIAH
Spoke of the “Day of the Lord” and the  “New heaven and new earth”

Isaiah 49:6

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind (Isaiah 65:17)”.

 

MICAH
“For the transgression of Jacob is all of this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? It is not Samaria? And what are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem? Therefore I will make Samaria as a heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundation thereof. And all the graven images shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with fire, and all the idols I will lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of a harlot, and they shall return to the hire of a harlot. Therefore I will wail and howl, and will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning like the owls (Micah 1:5-8)”.

“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, ‘Come, and let us go up the to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore (Micah 4:1-3)”.

“And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as dew from the Lord, as showers upon the grass, that works not for man, not waits for the son of men (Micah 5:7)”.

“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves that are a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or of ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, oh man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love mercy, and the walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8)”.

 

JEREMIAH
“Behold the days are coming says the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; the covenant which they broke, although I have been a husband to them, says the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, says the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach not more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’: for they all shall know me, from the least unto the greatest, says the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34)”.

Jeremiah also wrote the Book of Lamentations, which contains his prophesies and cries on behalf of the city of Jerusalem during the time of its impending judgement in 586 BC.

 

EZEKIEL
Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord. This led to him seeing a glimpse of the people being resurrected (cf. Ezekiel chapter 37) and the River of Life flowing from the restored Temple of God (cf. Ezekiel 47:1-12).

 

MALACHI
“For behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yes, and all them that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But to you that fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings: and you shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they shall be as ashes under the soles of you feet in the day that I do this, says the Lord of hosts (Malachi 4: 1-2)”.

“Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, unless I come and smite the earth with a curse (Malachi 4:5-6)”.

 

JOHN THE BAPTIST
“In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’. For this was he that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight…Then went out to him, Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized by him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said to them, ‘O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth fruit meet with repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham as our father: for I say to you, that God is able to make children of Abraham out of these stones. And now also, the ax is at the root of the trees; therefore every tree which does not bring forth fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water for repentance, but He that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the barn, and He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:1-12)”.

 

SIMEON
“And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon: and he was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the Temple, and when the parents had brought in Jesus, to do for him the custom of the Law, then Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed him, and said, ‘Lord, let your servant now depart in peace, according to Your word. I have seen Your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all people: a light to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel…Behold, this child will cause the rising and falling of many in Israel; and a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yeah, a sword shall pierce through my own soul too), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (Luke 2:25-35)”.

 

ANNA  
“And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity: and she was a wisdom for forty forty four years, and did not leave the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers, day and night. And she came in that instant and gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all of them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-28)”.

 

 

CONCLUSION

This study had begun as an idea to do a skit regarding the prophets. The point of the title, Disturbing The Peace, was to highlight the point that the prophets disturbed the status quo, especially in times when false prophets tried to keep the people content with a false peace. The prophets highlighted the true peace and hope that came from God, and continually called the people to live in line with that.

As I have grown in my understanding of Theology, the shape and purpose of the prophetic literature in the Bible has taken on much more meaning. Namely that the prophetic all mysteriously pointed to the New Covenant that would be made known through Jesus Christ, and the “hope of Israel”, as well as the “living hope”. As accounted by the Apostle Paul, the Gospel is the manifestation of the hope made known through the prophets (cf. Acts 24:14; 26:22) – nothing other than that will fit the “one hope” of Ephesians 4:4. Therefore, I have found it to be important in our continual growth into the Gospel to diligently study through the Prophets.

Prayerfully this study edified your own.

 

For His Glory,

Michael Miano
Pastor, Apologist, Author, & Director

 

 

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Book Review: ‘Tyrant’ by Brian Godawa

One thing I must say at the outset is that this book, Tyrant, by Mr. Brian Godawa was astounding in bringing forth well researched history and the style in which it was done. Simply reading the “Must Read” on viii had me excited to begin reading a historical-fiction book. Mind you, I haven’t read a fiction book in years (and was committed to the notion I prefer nonfiction). Not so much anymore.   Tyrant

Not only does Brian write in such a prolific way, he also has quite the imagination and brings out details in a way that keeps you involved in the story. The last “Christian fiction” novel I read was most likely something by Frank Perretti (which I enjoyed but categorize as simply fiction). And while the imagery of the Spiritual warfare many share a similar tone, Mr. Godawa constructs historical scenes mixed with such spirituality that allows for an intellectually satisfying journey (despite possibly disagreeing on our conceptual understand of the “Spirit world”).

‘Tyrant’ starts out in early AD 64, wherein we began to see the historic fulfillment of the “coming of the Lord” (as Biblically understood). I enjoyed Mr. Godawa’s highlighting of the narrative perspective of the “war of the Seed” which began at Genesis 3:15 and finds it’s conclusion in Romans 16:20 and Revelation 12:7-12 (and he did mention he gives more details in that regarding in his series, ‘Chronicles of the Nephilim’).

An interest detail I might like to talk through with Mr. Brian Godawa (look forward to a possible future podcast on MGW Radio) would be our seeming agreement regarding the work of Satan in and through the Roman-Jewish authorities in the 1st century. In speaking about Satan, or Apollyon as he is referred to throughout ‘Tyrant’, it is said, “I was the Great Adversary in Yahweh’s Heavenly Court, they called me the “Accuser of the Brethren”. Well the Nazarene stripped me of that power and cast me down to this stinking exile of dirt…I have no legal jurisdiction over the children of God…I no longer have power to prosecute, but I have the ability to persecute”. Following that point, Mr. Godawa details a Jewish authority remarking, “I have not yet used the power of Rome”. Now, moving past the “Divine Heavenly Council” (which I have come to disagree with). I am wondering if Mr. Godawa would agree with understand the binding, loosing, and destroying of the “strong man” as detailed by Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 12 as involving exactly that – the Romans and the Jews working together to destroy the Christians (which becomes self-destroying effort). More of a historical narrative, I would highlight this as the Spiritual tone behind the “thousand years” of Revelation chapter 20. God willing, Mr. Godawa might talk in that regard.

I could truly go on and on detailing the immense amount of insights Brian shared throughout this book (that also explains why the notes in the back are pretty much half of the actual book). He went into details about abortion policies in Rome at that time, “gender-inclusive religions elimination sexual differences”, and the horrors of “infant exposure”. He pained the proper ugly picture of historic Rome’s religious and cultural influences. And he marks out Rome as the “iron and clay beast” of the Book of Daniel. He easily explained how the imagery of the “mark of the beast” should be understood (cf. Revelation 13:16-18; Deuteronomy 6:6-8), namely as Spiritual fornication with Rome. Mr. Godawa spoke about the polytheistic religions of Rome and highlighted points that should have cause us to reflect on our theology today. Consider these insights:

“Roman polytheists saw the world as a drama of the God’s in conflict with differing intents and motivations. For the Jew, Yahweh placed good kings in power to bless and wicked kings to chastise. But, in either case, Yahweh was accomplishing His purposes, and His will could not be thwarted (cf. Job 12:16-25; 42:1-2).”

“Polytheism appeared to be an inclusive religion of tolerance, but really, it was a jealous god. An all-encompassing system of Spiritual slavery”.

To bring this review to a conclusion I simply want to highlight some really great details that Mr. Godawa brought out in ‘Tyrant’, that I imagine many in the theological circles I navigate while appreciate.

In speaking about “Heaven and Earth” as a “covenant term”, Mr. Godawa notes, “In the Torah, God used the concept of a poetic metaphor for the covenant. The Old Covenant and its elements of temple and sacrifice were likened to the old heavens and earth. The New Covenant would be a shaking of that old world and the establishment of a new heavens and earth”. He also mentions in another place, “The shaking of the heavens and earth, the failure of the sun, moon, and stars was all figurative language that the Hebrew prophets used to describe the collapse of earthly regimes, and the spiritual powers behind them. Jeremiah used the same symbols to describe the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians. Isaiah used the same symbols to describe the fall of Babylon and of Judah. Ezekiel used the same symbols for the destruction of Egypt”.

And of course as a Preterist, it was exciting to read proper theology of the “last days” in such a format. Mr. Godawa goes on to point out that the 42 months of Revelation 13:5-7, the Great Tribulation, is the Roman-Jewish War of AD 64-70. In the Notes in the back of the book, Mr. Godowa provides extensive historical research regarding “The End of What?” Also, he provides insights regarding the Preterist view in the back of the book. I rather enjoyed the following insight he shared about “recapitulation” as found in the Book of Revelation. “You have to think like a Hebrew to understand the symbols. The judgement is severe. But the repetition of numbers and judgements reflects a common technique used by Jewish writers called recapitulation…It a cyclical repetition, a way of saying the same thing in three different ways. The seals, the trumpets, and the bowls are all referring to the same judgements from three different perspectives…Each seal, trumpet, and bowl judgment provides a different perspective and adds more detail to the picture as it progresses toward the final judgement. It operates as a kind of spiraling whirlpool of meaning, not a chronological order of events”.  

I do indeed look forward to a future dialogue with Mr. Brian Godawa. To go over some details mentioned herein and to gain his response to what historical books/ information helped him put all the historical details together in such a way?

Get your hands on the book. Here is a link for purchase, https://godawa.com/books/chronicles-of-the-apocalypse/tyrant-rise-of-the-beast/

I’ll conclude with two points to ponder from the book, which clearly exemplifies how reading his books can invigorate your missionality in understanding and following after Jesus Christ.

“They spent too much time and energy quibbling over petty doctrines among themselves – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, the Zealots – rather than achieving real action and reform”.

“…it takes more than political discontent, emotional zeal, and a charismatic leader to create an effective result. It takes true Believers – and real strategy”.

Many thanks to Brian for this enjoyable read!

For the Glory of God,

Michael Miano
Pastor, Blue Point Bible Church

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Human Fascination With Evil”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I call this the COLLECTIVE part of your discipleship.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In His Service,

Pastor Michael Miano

Blue Point Bible Church

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