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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Pastor Michael Miano

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

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“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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Book Review – Fulfilled Eschatology by Tim Liwanag

As Pastor of The Blue Point Bible Church, I am always on the lookout for a simple enough yet concise and comprehesive resource to help others understand our views on Fulfilled Eschatology. Sure enough, in his book, Fulfilled Eschatology, Mr. Tim Liwanag delivers exactly that.

Right from the beginning of the book, one can easily notice that Mr. Liwanag has done much research and utilized many resources (books, articles, and learning from others in the Christian community) to formulate his excellent effort of systematizing the story within Scripture. Two teachers that I greatly admire wrote ‘introductions’ to the book, Mr. Joe Daniels & Mr. Larry Siegle, therefore I new it was going to be an enjoyable read, and there introductions to the book were right on target. Mr. Siegle mentioned that the book was full of great lists of Scripture and might offer some new insights to the reader, that surely explains the benefit of this great read. Mr. Daniels rightly noted Mr. Liwanag’s great exposition on the Deity of Christ, and his efforts to exalt Christ that are prevalent throughout the entire book.

It is not uncommon for me to read the works of other Believer’s who have come to agree with Fulfilled Escatology and yet find areas of major disagreement. This is largely due to the fact that the truths of Fulfilled Eschatology have the ability to cross denominational lines and bring light to the context and truth of Scripture. Yet confusion is still there. I am glad to say that Mr. Liwanag was not afraid to utilize Scripture to formulate conclusions even in areas that many Bible expositors are afraid to venture (i.e., the lake of fire a.k.a. “hell”, fulfilled eschatology’s application for today, resurrection, the book of Revelation, etc.), yet I found no areas of disagreement.

This is a testament to Mr.Liwanag’s respect for the context and application of Scripture. To that I must say, “Thank You”. The lists of passages provided to make points was so clear and concise, that I was excited to continue reading.

Mr. Liwanag’s explanation and usage of ‘audience relevance’ is commendable, and it clearly seen through his retelling of the story with a focus on Israel (what some have come to refer to as the “Hebrew Exclusivity” noted in Scripture). The lengths he went to provide lists of Scriptures and passages to support the details is astounding, and surely provided me with some lists I can use in teaching others.

According to John chapter 4, those who worship God must worship Him as He desires, and that is in Truth and in Spirit. The clear-as-day exaltation of Christ that Mr. Liwanag provides throughout the writing is refreshing, and shows us the goal of his writing this book. Also, it is a common trend today for many “Christians” to obsess over fantastic notions of ‘heaven’ that they have made up, rather than paying attention to “Covenant-Fulfillment”, which is expressed through understanding the ‘full narrative’ of Scripture- gladly Mr. Liwanag brings out these details in Fulfilled Eschatology as well.

This book is a must read, and for many of the discussions going on within Preterist circles, and the rapid expansion of Fulfilled Eschatology, this book is right on time! Just as the Preterists like things.

Nearing the end of the book, Mr. Liwanag notes, “So where do we go from here? The answer is not “towards fulfillment” but “from fulfillment in Christ onwards” and then he goes on to say, “At this point, however, what remains is for us to show by the Scripture again the fulfillment message is not finished yet, even though all things written to and for the Israelites were fulfilled”. Amen to that!

I can’t wait for Mr. Tim Liwanag to get his book, Fulfilled Eschatology, in print so I can put it in the hands of others who desire to understand the context of Scripture. Another great ‘Preterist Resource’ to enable others to see the power of living in “Christ’s Glorious Presence Now”.

In His Service,

Pastor Michael Miano

Blue Point Bible Church

www.bluepointbiblechurch.org

P.S.- There always seems to be confusion on what exactly is means to be a “Christian”. In his book, again noting how all encompassing the book really is, Mr. Liwanag gives a great description of the term “Christian” as applying to God’s people:

“At first believers had no distinctive name, but were called among themselves “brethren,” Ac 6:3; “disciples,” Ac 6:1; “those of the way,” Ac 9:2; “saints,” Ro 1:7; by the Jews (who denied that Jesus was the Christ, and so would never originate the name Christian), in contempt, “Nazarenes.” At Antioch, where first idolatrous Gentiles (Cornelius, Ac 10:1, 2, was not an idolater, but a proselyte) were converted, and wide missionary work began, they could be no longer looked on as a Jewish sect, and so the Gentiles designated them by the new name “Christians.” The rise of the new name marked a new epoch in the Church’s life, a new stage of its development, namely, its missions to the Gentiles.”

In the first-century Messianic age, it is a Christian’s creed, not only to represent Christ’s name, but also to be defamed for it:

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or asa thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (1 Peter 4:14-16; Revelation 3:12)

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

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

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

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

I would like to first respond to this comment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For His Glory,
Pastor Michael Miano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOW HAVE WE GOTTEN TO THIS POINT?

WHY HAS THE CHURCH FAILED TO CORRECT THIS ERROR?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love the words of Edward Hassert here:

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

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

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

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

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

Let us pray,

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

Blessings in and through Jesus Christ,
Pastor Michael Miano

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

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

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“What will people do if they believe they have complete freedom as a Christ-follower?”

“What will people do  if they believe  they have complete freedom as a Christ-follower?”

Recently I read “Free Book” by Brian Tome. The fact that the word “fanatic” on the cover was enough to intrigue me enough to read through this book. I loved how blunt Pastor Brian was throughout the book.

         I love the fact that he mentioned that there are millions of books about religion and self-control but so very few about freedom. Jesus Christ talked about freedom so much- why does this seem to be the missing link in Christianity?

In 2009 I seemed to be bent on “living life to the max” and have a couple blogs that one could go back and read. (Disclaimer- remember I have grown Spiritually and mentally quite a bit since 2009). I have come to love the term “hedonist” which John Piper brought into the Christian realm. A hedonist is someone who lives for the pursuit of pleasure. I believe that Kingdom-life through Jesus Christ is the pursuit of the ultimate pleasure, or life to the full (John 10:10).

The man that led me to Christ (Paul Curran) was very big on “embracing your vulnerabilities” in an effort to “access the power of Christ” ( a writing of his about this topic is in the appendix of my book, Freaked Out by the New Covenant). Embracing your vulnerabilities is allowing yourself to die, so to speak, or be weak that way Christ is your strength.  I believe this to be quite the liberating experience.

I remember brother Paul aways citing 1 John 4:8, “perfect love casts out fear”, as a primary thought to challenge people to live without fear. Pastor Brian says this in the book:

“Fear  might keep you  from going places you could enjoy, talking with people who could expand your thinking,  and trying things that will grow you”.

LET YOUR LOVE FOR LIVING YOUR GOD-GIVEN LIFE TO THE FULL CAST OUT FEAR. Make the pledge today to live fearlessly. “Freedom is being who God designed you to be”.

“Instead of being so concerned about what might happen if you get too close to the proverbial line- because there are plenty of those messages out there- we need more voices saying, “You are free, and don’t allow anyone to bum you out by judging you”.

Let me make sure you know something upfront. The minute you decide to take control of your own life and live free- there are always those who will “judge you” and try and bring you back into bondage. I would say this is one of the “universal truths” we can derive from the 1st century gospel message (the contrast between the persecuting “Hagar” and the free “Sarah” – read Galatians 4:21-31).  As Saul Alinsky once said:

“Change means movement. Movement means friction”.

“If you are focused on maintaining balance- trying to satisfy all the people in every area of your life and just skating by with a little energy here and there- you probably aren’t moving, and you probably aren’t experiencing  the blessings that come from a life lived in freedom”.

Another disclaimer is the fact that freedom is kinda scary. It’s the unknown. A favorite author of mine, Shane Claiborne, talks about this is his book- The Irresistible Revolution. He speaks about how perhaps the most dangerous place to be is in the hands of God. A God who challenges men to trust Him and walk on water- Yes, God will bring you to some interesting places.  Sadly, as was said in the book:

“…when a new way of living is introduced, we are hardwired to think it is in our best interest to eliminate in and not change”.

So I want to initiate something here. Let’s call it the Caleb Project. If you read about Caleb in the book of Numbers and the book of Joshua you learn about his steadfast faith in God- willing to have what is called “risky faith”. I am asking you to consider that today. Let’s put this freedom thing to the test.

Have you ever written your bucket list? Write down those things you want to do and get started. Here are a couple of things I ready to start within the next couple weeks and it would be awesome to hear that you are involved.

The LIAR LIAR EXERCISE which is dedicating a day to being “brutally honest” with anyone and everyone you meet. This is quite the daring experience but I imagine it will be quite liberating, and yes- fun. Ha Ha, I just have to include this clip from the movie Liar Liar:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP2PlE41wpE

Pay It Forward is another liberating experience wherein you do a good deed for someone, or pay for their food, in the effort that they will do the same thing. Let’s start a chain reaction. I can give you story after story of how that looked on the Starbucks Drive-Thu line.

         In the next week or two, I will begin the 3 Day Challenge of Living on the Edge. I will be trying to get as many people as possible to participate. Let me know if you are willing to try it out. Learn more by visiting this website:

http://www.liveontheedge.com/3day.html

Some other ideas I am going to try out are living off the land for a week or so and being a freegan. Yeah Google that term it’s quite interesting.

       I know this is not exactly my usual “intellectual” style blog. I pride myself on not taking life too serious, living radically and loving Jesus-m demolishing strongholds and enabling others to find abundant life in Christ. I call this “living lightly”- something I look to get tattoed and start a chain reaction too. Are you willing to try out FREEDOM?

“Because Caleb has different fuel in his tank- a fire burning in his belly- he followed God full-on, and God decided to bless him remarkably through his life and his lineage”.

   I look forward to your responses. Blessings in Christ.

        -Pastor Michael Miano

Here are links to the blogs I had written back in 2009:

 

http://www.newsfromthetribe.blogspot.com/2009/06/dont-wanna-waste-my-life.html

http://www.newsfromthetribe.blogspot.com/2009/06/its-like-being-born-again.html

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