If we Misunderstand Jesus, We Most Likely Miss His Mission (Book Review)

(Book Review of ‘The Jesus I Never Knew’)

I have been reading and writing alot about the written prophets found in the Old Testament, men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, and Zechariah to mention a few. Being that the prophets point to the mystery that was revealed through Jesus (plus our upcoming sermons at Blue Point Bible Church will be based on Jesus and the unveiling of the Old Testament prophecies), I found it a God-send to read through Philip Yancey’s, The Jesus I Never Knew.

I have read many other books of the same ilk as this one. Books that point out the failure of the Christian Church to properly inform others of and represent Jesus Christ to the world. I am convinced that many may find themselves a part of a “Christian community” and maybe even refer to themselves as a “Christian”, yet completely miss the purpose of Jesus’ ministry and message. Sadly, as this book, The Jesus I Never Knew, as well as others like Alan Hirsch’s book, ReJesus, point out that many even go as fail as to mis-identify the character of Jesus Christ.

Author Philip Yancey remarks, “I memorized the list of 34 specific miracles in the Gospels but missed the impact of just one miracle. I learned the Beatitudes yet never faced the fact that none of us – I above all – could make sense of those mysterious sayings, let alone live by them.”

It is exactly that quote from early on in the book that has stimulated my thoughts about Jesus Christ this whole week. Mr. Yancey is pointing out the purpose of Jesus’ ministry – establishing His righteousness- and thus giving us the knowledge of God’s will and through the working of the Spirit of God, with such an amazing grace – we can become that righteousness (cf. read through Galatians chapter 3 then Matthew 6:33-34). As Scripture says, “What the Law could not do because it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, in order the the Law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:3-4)”.

That was the “hope of Israel” as revealed through the Old and New Testaments. Sadly, this “one hope” has been replaced, confounded, and dismissed by many who call themselves “Christians”, because of a lack of contextual Bible reading. Many are missing the “Good News” by settling for a story and a Jesus, that is not the story nor the Jesus of the Bible.

You see, the Christian Church is stuck behind the “battle of the ages” which is detailed in Galatians chapter 5. Simply put, the things desired by, aimed for, and established by man, verses the same things through a God’s eye-view. Jesus Himself promised that “the gates of hades will not prevail over the Church (), yet He also promised tribulation and persecution – so it is a battle, even within the Church, however through faith we know our Lord to be Faithful.

Mr. Yancey goes about an honest investigation regarding the birth, message, death, resurrection, mission of Jesus Christ as expounded upon in the Bible. He notes alot of the ‘common day confusion’ regarding these things, and provides alot to think about.

Again, I must mention Alan Hirsch’s book, ReJesus, beacause Mr. Yancey’s book is a great companion to Hirsch’s. Maybe it is ‘high time’ that the Church wakes up and realizes that it has by and large failed to properly embody the living reality of Jesus Christ. It is the Christian Church that is called to “make known the manifold wisdom of God”, in Word and Deed, yet it sometimes seems that we are suffering the fate of the “blind leading the blind”.

The world categorically rejects the Truth of Jesus Christ, as I just come out of a conversation myself wherein someone referred to me as a “brainwashed Christian”. If the Church has failed to make known the wisdom are we shocked that thge majority of society is left wondering- Does God even care about the misery that exists in our world? Do we really matter to God?

Ultimately, we know these were the cries of the Prophets. God had created a ‘covenant relationship’ with Israel, based on obedience, yet Israel failed time and time again to be obedient and thus suffered judgement- this judgement was usually invasion and exile by the hands of foreign armies (as the Lord refers to Assyria as “His rod” at one point in Scripture). The prophets would speak out either before the impending judgment regarding the wickedness of the people in going after other gods, or offering encouragement yet with discipline regarding the Faithfulness of God to His people. His people were dead to Him in exile, yet one day He would bring about Resurrection and the Kingdom would be restored. As Yancey remarks in the book:

“Every Hebrew prophet had taught that someday God would install His kingdom on Earth, and that is why rumors about the “Son of David” so inflamed Jewish hopes. God would prove in person that He had not forsaken them. He would, as Isaiah cried, “rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before You!…come down and cause the nations to quake before you.”

However I really love how Mr. Yancey followed the prophetic fulfillment, and the way he causes us to honestly look at it:

“But let us be honest. When the one John pointed to arrived on the scene, neither the mountains trembled nor the nations quaked. Jesus did not come close to satisfying the lavish hopes of the Jews. The opposite happened: within a generation Roman soldiers razed Jerusalem to the ground. The young Christian church accepted the destruction of the Temple as a sign of the end of the covenant between God and Israel…”

Jesus Christ causes us to see the world a bit different. You see….it wasn’t that God did not fulfill the promises to the Jews- but He did so in a mysterious way- through Jesus Christ, as the book of Ephesians details. Sadly, just like Simon Peter in Matthew chapter 16, many have the thoughts of man (carnally-minded), rather than thinking and seeing the world through the things of God (see, Philippians 4:8).

Having a carnal mind, set on the fulfillment of the things of God in a physical carnal way, is a sure way to miss the purpose of the ministry and message of Jesus Christ. No matter how much we try to avoid the realities that were brought about through Christ, it is in and through God in the flesh, that we find the “Life” this world longs for- having a renewed mind and a new heart is the solution to the issues we face. If we don’t see nor understand the Gospel as a reality today, again its ‘high time’ for the Christian Church to begin embodying the reality that Christ has given us.

Much of the confusion regarding the Biblical reality we currently live in is due to a lack of understanding Biblical context. Many are utilizing foreign concepts, and misappropriating Bible verses, in an effort that creates a hope foreign to what we call “audience relevance”. For example, take note how the Gospel according to Matthew does not start out saying, “Here is the Good News that will change your life”. Instead, Matthew gives the story in a way his audience, his generation, would understand. The Book of Matthew starts out with a geneology establishing Christ as a son of Adam, and a Son of David- proving he was of the “flesh and blood” of Israel. This is importance since the “hope of Israel”, as well as the challenge happening in the New Covenant has everything to do with – how the Gentiles would come to share in the promises of God (two favorite passages of mine on this topic are Ephesians 2-3 and Romans 9-15).

It was John the Baptist, the forerunning to Christ’s ministry, who declared to the Jews of that generation that “flesh and blood” would have no part in what the Messiah would establish. For God could raise up children to Abraham out of the stones- and in many senses that is what He was doing.

I must say, Philip Yancey wrote a really good read. It’s a simple book yet causes us to challenge our assumptions about Christ and his ministry. I love some of the “preterist” aspects that Mr. Yancey brings up, in very light ways- pointing to the events of A.D. 70.

I found it ironic that Mr. Yancey mentioned “supersessionism”, which is also sometimes referred to as ‘replacement theology’ in his book. The confusion in the Church surely has alot to do with this and a failure to keep our theology in its proper context. Rather than holding to a sort of “supersessionism”, I would assert a “remant theology”. It wasn’t that the New Covenant superceded the ‘Old Covenant’, or that Christians replace Israel- it was a remant of Jew & Gentile that formed one body in the first century, and now that reality has eternal results. That is the FULFILLED hope of Israel!

To end, let me make something clear. This is not simply a “theological matter” that we can dismiss. No no no. Our failure to properly know Jesus Christ in Biblical context leads us astray not only mentally, but also in the ways Christianity is lived out.

The safe, no beard or mustache Jesus, that Philip Yancey speaks about in his book, is not the Jesus of the Bible. Christians are called to “incarnate the Gospel” and make it real to a world that needs it, just like God did in the flesh in A.D. 70. Since we are talking a bit about “supersessionism” the opposite of that is the disgusting doctrine of Dispensationalism that has crept into the Christian Church. I could go on and on- yet I will simply refer you to look up some or my articles or Youtube videos on Israel, Zionism, and Dispensationalism.

Yancey mentions a quote from Malcolm Muggeridge, “The role of the Roman legionnaires has been taken over by the Israeli army. Now it is the Arabs who are in the position of a subjected people, entlitled like the Jews in Jesus’ lifetime, to attend their mosques and practice their religion, but otherwise are treated life second class citizens.”

The false doctrine of Dispensationalism has not only allowed for lies to be made out of Scripture, but also a ‘new hope’ (which is no hope at all) and has calloused Christians to doing the work of Jesus in the Middle East.

As a conclusion to this report on the book, I would simply challenge us a bit further. What was Jesus’ mission? How does that translate in our context today? And, once we begin to understand Jesus and His message, what is the healing that it brings to our lives and the world today?

Take time to read through the Gospels this week and understand what Jesus was saying- would we “see” the blessings through physical eyes or nah? 🙂

In His Service,

Pastor Mike Miano

HOW THEN SHALL WE LIVE (Time To Clear the Air) – Please Read!

Time To Clear the Air – Please Read

*In this article I use the word “gay” synonymously with homosexuality.

Before I start, I want to affirm some things. Since that’s the man that I have grown in the grace and knowledge to be- a man who is known and stands more for what I affirm, rather than what I am against.

I preach week after week that we must turn away from carnality (ways of man, desires of the flesh)- “death to self” to the true “Life” offered by Christ. I affirm that Life is found in and through Jesus Christ alone. That is the Gospel!

Over the last couple days, weeks, months or whatever it has been (honestly hasn’t been my area of focus since I endeavor to call ALL MEN to repentance, not just a simple few). Anyway, recently I was brought into the discussion of “homosexuality and the Bible”. Simply put, with all the “gay-bashing”, outrageous comments and things being said by so-called “Christians”, and so on – my response was one of critique rather than joining the line of gay-haters and the methods being used to expose the sin of these carnal lifestyles.

Quickly, I want to share a quick story. Growing up as a gang member, I hated gays. The “street culture” for the most part has no tolerance pertaining to homosexuality. The “gang” I was involved in also had a law against homosexuality- if you were thought to be gay, you would receive a pretty severe beating and possibly killed. I’ve never saw it happen- it was just that taboo.

After quite the journey in life, I became a Christian. The truth of the Gospel, Biblically and historically astounded me as much then as it does now. The grace of Jesus’ message is something I not only understand, but according to many, I can explain pretty well.

As I have grown in the grace and knowledge of God (not as easy of a road as I thought it would be that one night I prayed to “receive Jesus”). I did realize the Christian community sadly has a lot in common with my previous associations. A serious lack of grace, love, honestly, integrity, etc…. Guess what, I’m included! The daily walk of “making war” with the things that seem right to a man, in contrast to being a man after God’s own heart is tough. I can say, thankfully, by the work of God and grace of others, my desires are in a pretty good place these days 🙂

So that being said. Now a pastor, I commonly get the question – “What do you think about homosexuality”. My ‘blanket response’ usually is “I don’t”. Which is true. I don’t spend my time studying and thinking about homosexuality, just as I don’t do so regarding a host of other sins. Instead I trust if I “study to show myself approved, rightly dividing the Word of Truth ()”, and preach the Gospel in season and out – that God will do the work of convicting the hearts of sinners. Go ahead and listen to the last 3 sermons I have preached. That my friends is the Gospel.

Now….where do I stand on a Biblical and Covenantal perspective of homosexuality? Well….I have shaken my head time and time again against those who “cherry-pick” Bible verses, in all sorts of occasions, and surely do so here. A lot of times to go through the passage contextually actually becomes funny if you try to impose something on the text that is not there. So….for the past couple days I have been battling those who try to do this “cherry picking” in regards to homosexuality- I did what I do in every topic- challenged them. At this point I do believe that if we approach the Bible rightly, understanding the narrative and the transition of covenants, as well as the Covenantal revelation of the One True God, that homosexuality is sin. A violation of the Spiritual covenant order, both demonstrated through Genesis as well as a basic understanding of God’s perfection and how science works within that (* Note: I am not a scientist though so that would take a bit more study; and I will still offer the challenge that the “cherry picked” Bible verses do not prove anything, especially when they are ripped out of what they are contextually speaking about).

I will readily admit, I do know my Bible pretty darn well, however I don’t know it all. I strive to walk worthy of understanding as well as application.

All of that said….. in recent days, I have lost “friends”, I have deleted people, I have blocked groups and ask for some support from the men and women in the movement I thought we had (Thanks so much to those of you who did reach out), and have lost opportunities in ministry.

Simply put, that’s not Christian. How dare anyone call this “movement” Christian, if leaders are allowed to be attacked, we are not allowed to freely examine things, and worst yet, we label certain violations of Scripture “sin”, while disregarding a boatload of other topics and verses.

The Bible is very clear that “sin is sin”- and to focus on one, while leaving the others out is to commit the very sin that came under judgment in the first century.

James 2:10-11 says: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.”

Go ahead and read Romans 6:23 or Galatians 3:10. Or, let’s not avoid these wise words that should convict us all “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin,” (James 4:17).

Ezekiel 18:20 is very clear that every soul that sins shall die- this is an indictment against each and every one of us. Unless you want to run the risk of saying that you do not sin (the Bible verse for that is 1 John 1:8-10).

The whole crux of Jesus’ message is that we must not seek our own ways, our own kingdom, or our own righteousness. We must look to Him as the author and finisher of our faith, not ourselves- all things will be added to us when we seek first HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS!

We read that “LOVE” fulfills the law – Go see., Galatians 5:14; Romans 13:8-10

Oh and no worries, I know what true love is. I’m not talking about a complacent love- no a love that engages every man, woman, and child with the Gospel because I truly know and understand that the true life all of us seek can only be found by dying to self, and allowing His righteousness to be our life.

Scripture surely has a bunch to say about backbiting, slander, and gossip. See, Romans 1:28-30, 1 Peter 2:1 – yet this week was led by so-called “Christians” doing exactly that. I expressed my disgust with how Christians would continually talk about sin rather than the Gospel, I mocked this-yes. However, wasn’t endeavoring to give my doctrinal stance.

Funny thing, Scripture is also pretty clear on how to handle both outsiders and those of us “inside” the body, when we are caught in error. In the context of Matthew chapter 18 and James chapter 5, we read that we should loving strive to restore our brothers from error, Scripture even prescribes the method. The text is more-so speaking of sinful behavior in the Church, but we cannot even do that when it comes to doctrinal discussion. Instead, we pick and choose- not surprised with a crowd that “cherry picks” Bible verses to bully others.

Now I sit on the bullied side. For simply demanding consistency. Not the first time, however, I will be sure it will be the last time.

Scripture is also very clear that, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:2)”.

I am so saddened, by all of this, oh and sure as one brother put it “That’s your ego”.Absolutely!

Preterism is a powerful and amazing thing. However, if we violate the entirety of Christianity (teaching the world to flee carnality by humble, patient, and gracious expressions of Truth) for the sake of the areas we want to focus on- we can’t call that Christian.

I am disappointed in those who failed to show any support in regards to encouraging me, defending my calling, or simply calling to account the fact that we as Preterists should be the first to allow some grace in areas of doctrine. I have learned a lot this week.

I have learned time and time again, hurtful, painful moments lead to growth. Thank God.

Some of the growth that should come of this is that if we are leading a “movement”, we should be careful about who is “moving” with us. Those who would rather discard and disregard Christian leaders who are actually pastoring churches and leading people to be conformed to Christ – rather than support them and defend them. I have no time for. Those who would rather focus on abberations of the Gospel, rather than exhorting ALL MEN to turn from ALL SIN to find rest in God’s way over man’s- I have no interest of saying you are a “teacher”, a “leader”, or anything within the “movement” I am in. And of course, those who cater to the above mentioned type- no thanks.

I pray this post – “cleared the air.”. Sadly, we have a lot of critique to do within our own “movement”. I will not call Christian, things that are not Christian.

In His Service,

Pastor Michael Miano

P.S. – I will continue my studies without being “bullied” into anything. I will call all sin, sin- and teach men to seek God, learn of God, trust God rather than the ways, mentalities, and desires of man. I will also continue to be friends with people I know that are gay, and just like when I might meet whoever is reading this, I won’t spend time focusing on sin.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8