The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

One Church from the Beginning

The false teaching of dispensationalism posits that Israel and the Church are two distinct organisms with different destinies and responsibilities. With this foundational error laid, it then goes on to cause even greater confusion and harm as it interprets Scripture in ways quite opposite of how the New Testament writers did.

In Stephen’s history of Israel, delivered just before his death at the hands of his own countrymen, he made this interesting statement:

This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai… (Acts 7:37-38a)

That word “congregation” is the Greek word “ekklesia” or “called out ones.” It is also correctly translated in many other versions as “Church.” Stephen had just called the Old Testament Israel “the Church in the wilderness,” even as he reminded his listeners that they were accountable to obey the Prophet whom Moses predicted would come (Jesus).

The apostle Paul said this concerning the Old Testament Church:

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. (I Cor. 10:1-4)

Paul is very clear that this Old Testament Congregation was a people who went through a form of baptism, ate spiritual food, and drank of the living waters of Christ. They were to walk with and be fed by Christ. This is the same language applied to the Christian life under the New Covenant gospel. Certainly such spiritual truths are more clear to us today because we can examine the New Testament, and are able to look back to Jesus’ death and resurrection. But the principles were already in operation in Old Testament Israel, though somewhat veiled, being a copy or shadow of the “good things to come.” (Col. 2:16-17; Heb. 8:5, 10:1)

The Congregation (Church) was to listen to God’s voice and do whatever He said. They would be blessed if they obeyed, and cursed if they disobeyed. With most of them, God was not well-pleased, and they perished without ever obtaining the promise. Others in their posterity would make it further than they did, but would also turn aside to idols after once being faithful. If God’s many warnings to Israel are to be believed (and I believe them), these apostates would also would be “cut off from Israel” (regardless of whether they were ever officially forced to leave their physical land).

The Old Testament Church, just like the New Testament Church, was a remnant of faithful people within a larger group of unfaithful people who also claimed to be the Church (Israel). This is why Paul said that not all “Israel” are “Israel.” (Rom. 9:6-8) All professed to be His, but many denied Him by their works (Titus 1:16). The Lord has always known those who were His, and still does now that the New Covenant is in place (2 Tim. 2:19). We can say, and often do, that “not all the church is THE CHURCH.” God’s true Church is growing, and is pictured by an Olive Tree which has Jewish and Gentile branches (Rom. 11), in keeping with His original plan to bless all nations through Abraham’s Seed–which is Christ (Gen. 22:18). These only are the true Israel of God–or the true Church–then and now.

Though men judge by outward things (appearances, religious obligations, ethnic origins), Jesus will clean out His threshing floor (those who claim to be His people) and will gather the wheat into the barn, and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matt. 3:12). There are those who say they are Jews, who are in reality followers of satan (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). Paul taught us how we can tell a true Jew in God’s eyes–his heart must be circumcised by the Spirit of God (Rom. 2:28-29). Those who are Jews only outwardly are not Jews at all, according to Paul.

Israel and the Church are not two separate entities. They are simply the Church under the Old Covenant, and the Church under the New Covenant. As Truth was progressively revealed in the process of time, the Old Testament Church rolled over into the New Testament Church, and together they (OT prophets and NT apostles) became the foundation of the New Covenant Temple, with Christ as its eternal Cornerstone. (Eph. 2:20). It is one Church from the beginning, but the New Covenant has fulfilled the Old Covenant, and caused it to be made obsolete forever. The Seed of Abraham has come, and He has obtained the promise for everyone who repents and believes in Him (Gal. 3:16, 29). This is the Israel of God, upon whom will be everlasting peace. Praise God!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: