The Israel of God

Galatians 6: 14 But far be it from me to boast, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Dispensationalist often use Justin Martyr as roots of its theology because of his pre-millenium stance. However, when it comes to the doctrine of separation of Israel and the church, Martyr writes this concerning Galatians 6:16…

Jesus Christ … is the new law, and the new covenant, and the expectation of those who out of every people wait for the good things of God. For the true spiritual Israel, and the descendants of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham (who in uncircumcision was approved of and blessed by God on account of his faith, and called the father of many nations), are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ.

Martin Luther on Galatians 6:16 from his Lectures on Galatians, 1519. 

“Walk” is the same verb that is used above (5:25). “Walk,” that is, go, by this rule. By what rule? It is this rule, that they are new creatures in Christ, that they shine with the true righteousness and holiness which come from faith, and that they do not deceive themselves and others with the hypocritical righteousness and holiness which come from the Law. Upon the latter there will be wrath and tribulation, and upon the former will rest peace and mercy. Paul adds the words “upon the Israel of God.” He distinguishes this Israel from the Israel after the flesh, just as in 1 Cor. 10:18 he speaks of those who are the Israel of the flesh, not the Israel of God. Therefore peace is upon Gentiles and Jews, provided that they go by the rule of faith and the Spirit.

And from his Lectures on Galatians in 1535.

“Upon the Israel of God.” Here Paul attacks the false apostles and the Jews, who boasted about their fathers, their election, the Law, etc. (Rom. 9:4-5). It is as though he were saying: “The Israel of God are not the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel but those who, with Abraham the believer (3:9), believe in the promises of God now disclosed in Christ, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.”

John Calvin writes,

Upon the Israel of God. This is an indirect ridicule of the vain boasting of the false apostles, who vaunted of being the descendants of Abraham according to the flesh. There are two classes who bear this name, a pretended Israel, which appears to be so in the sight of men, and the Israel of God. Circumcision was a disguise before men, but regeneration is a truth before God. In a word, he gives the appellation of the Israel of God to those whom he formerly denominated the children of Abraham by faith (Galatians 3:29), and thus includes all believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, who were united into one church.

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Christ, Israel, and the Church

Written by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Th.D., Director, NiceneCouncil.com

Dispensationalism has two key commandments that call its followers to true obedience: “First, thou shalt always, forever, and without fail hold, maintain, defend, promote, and even suffer martyrdom for a distinct and dominant future for geo-political Israel — thou and thy house after thee.”  Indeed, the distinction between Israel and the Church embodied in this commandment is a sine qua non of the whole system. For dispensationalists, everything rises or falls on the question of Israel. Which being interpreted means that the whole system ultimately falls. (That is why their frequent calls for the Rapture always fail: it is not due to their lame excuse that they hit some dense clouds and dropped back down to earth.) In this regard dispensationalism differs from the teaching of Jesus — and of the whole New Testament. But not to worry, for this is only the first and great commandment. But there is a second commandment that is like unto it: “Second, thou shalt surely interpret the Old Testament without reference to Jesus or his tiny band of Apostles — for what do they know, since they ante-date Scofield? Yea, and thou shalt be satisfied no matter what Jesus saith.” On these two commandments hang the whole system and the mass-market paperback industry — and its publishing houses. In this blog I will select some insightful quotations from an important older article that absolutely demolishes the dispensational view of Israel by demonstrating that this was not Christ’s view: R. T. France, “Old Testament Prophecy and the Future of Israel” published in the Tyndale Bulletin (vol. 26: 1975). I highly recommend your reading, studying, memorizing, copying, distributing, and promoting this article to erstwhile dispensationalists. It is a marvelous exposition of Christ’s teaching about Israel, and the Church’s replacement of Israel as drawn from Christ’s teaching in the Synoptic Gospels. I keep a copy of this article beside my bed for devotional study, world without end. Amen.

Read the full article written here.


Can Dispensationalist Have a Literal Hermeneutic and not be Roman Catholic?

What is Dispensational Hermeneutics? In short, Dispensationalism has more to do with commitment to a particular hermeneutic then it does to adherence to a theological model. The Dispensational theological system arises out of a hermeneutic rather than from a theology imposed upon Scripture. They interpret the Scriptures with a literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic through all of the Scriptures – reading the Bible as the original writer intended to the original reader. As Dr. Charles Ryrie states on literal interpretation (Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody Press, 1965), 86.) “does not preclude or exclude correct understanding of types, illustrations, apocalypses, and other genres within the basic framework of literal interpretation… might also be called plain interpretation so that no one receives the mistaken notion that the literal principle rules out figures of speech.

With that in mind, how does the Dispensationalist read John 6:41-59 without becoming Roman Catholic???

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life.49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

One, I guess they could claim, as some do… the Four-Gospels written by the Apostles were not intended for the NT church – so then, this would not matter.

Two, they could use Pauline theology in 1 Corinthians 11 to properly understanding what Jesus is saying in chapter 6 of John’s gospel, but that would take away their literal interpretation of what the text is saying from original writer to original reader.

Three, Then again, (Ps. 50:10) he owns every beast of the forest, yet only a cattle on a thousand hills… right?


Dispensationalist Need to Read Their History

Many Dispensationalist lack the knowledge of historical theology and church history. I myself lack much being that  I am only 26-years old and just started reading it about 3-years ago. Yet the more I read of church history, the less I understand about American Evangelicalism, especially one of American’s largest faulty theologies over the last 100-years, Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism roots its history in the brethren movement – dispensationalism is rooted in the Plymouth Brethren movement in the 1830s of Ireland and England, and in the teachings of John Nelson Darby (1800–1882). Darby traveled extensively to continental Europe, New Zealand, Canada and the United States in an attempt to make converts to the Brethren movement. Over time, Darby’s eschatological views grew in popularity in the United States, especially among Baptists and Old School Presbyterians.

However Dispensationalism contradicts its’ own Brethren movement confessions time and time again.

Issue one: Covenant of Grace

The Waterland Confession: Article 4. Doctrine of Faith states, “Baptism means the entrance into the covenant of grace of God and the incorporation into the Church of Christ…

Leading proponent on Dispensationalism Dr. Charles Ryrie states in Dispensationalism Today, Moody Press, p.186, “there still remains the stark reality that nowhere does Scripture speak of a covenant of works or a covenant of grace as it speaks of a covenant with Abraham or a covenant at Sinai or the new covenant.

According to classical-dispensationalist Dr. Ryrie there is no such thing of a covenant of grace, but yet while his historical brethren roots confessed that the believer was issued into the Covenant of Grace after believers baptism. It would help to make mention that the Watlerland Confession was written 1540, prior to Darby dispensational thinking in 1830.

Issue two: Salvation the Same in both the OT & NT

The Dordrecht Confession: Article 3. states, “Regrading the restoration of our first parents and their descendants, we believe and confession: That god withstanding their (Adam and Eve) fall, transgressions, and sin, and although they had no power to help themselves, he was neverless not willing that they should be cast off entirely, or be eternally lost; but agin called them unto Him, comforted them, and showed them that there were-yet means with Him for their reconciliation; namely, the immaculate Lamb, the Son of God; who was for-ordained to this purpose before the foundation of the world, and was promised to them (Adam and Eve) and all their descendants, while they (our first parents) were yet in paradise, for their comfort, redemption, and salvation; yea, who was given to them thenceforward, through faith, as their own, after which they all the pious patriarchs, to whom this promise was often rewarded, longed and searched, beholding it through faith at a distance, and expecting its fulfillment – expecting that He, the Son of God, would at His coming, again redeem and deliver the fallen race of man from their sins, their guilt, and unrighteousness.

The early 20th century dispensationalist, Certainly Cyrus Ingerson Scofield carried water on both shoulders at this point, saying in some places that all people are saved in the same manner, but indicating in others that salvation was gained in a different manner during each of the seven periods. An example of his dual plans of salvation is found in the Scofield Bible (page 11 15, note 2) where he is contrasting the dispensation of law with that of grace stating,

“The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ… ‘ It is difficult to interpret this statement in any other way than that he was saying folk under the law were saved by one ‘condition’ while we under grace are saved by another ‘condition.’ His words, ‘no longer,’ indicate that there was a time when legal obedience was the means of salvation!”

If one dispensationalist was not enough, Lewis Sperry Chafer, another leader among the dispensationalists, also – in his insistence on a complete isolation of the New Testament dispensation from that of the Old Testament actually teaches two different plans of salvation. Writing in Dispensationalism (p.416), he makes the following statement:

“The essential elements of a grace administration – faith as the sole basis of acceptance with God, unmerited acceptance through a perfect standing in Christ, the present possession of eternal life, an absolute security from all condemnation, and the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit are not found in the kingdom administration. On the other hand, it is declared to be the fulfilling of ‘the law and the prophets’ (Matt 5:17,18; 7:12), and is seen to be an extension of the Mosaic Law into realms of meritorious obligation (italics mine).”

Break this paragraph by Chafer down into its component parts…

1. he gives the characteristics, including ‘faith as the sole basis of acceptance with God,’ of the present ‘dispensation’;

2. he says the alleged coming ‘dispensation’ (millennium) w ill operate under a different plan, since none of the above mentioned characteristics (note that this would include the mode of salvation) ‘are to be found in the kingdom administration’;

3. he says that the alleged coming millennial kingdom will be a continuation of the Old Testament plan, i.e., ‘it is declared to be the fulfilling of the law and the prophets.’

From these three points a syllogism can be formed easily. The syllogism would be as follows: In the present dispensation, we have ‘faith as the sole basis of acceptance with God…’ In the coming kingdom administration, this plan will not be in effect. They ‘are not found in the kingdom administration.’ Since, according to the dispensationalists, people will be saved during the millennium, they must of necessity be saved in some other manner than ‘faith as the sole basis of acceptance with God.’ Therefore, inasmuch as the coming dispensation will be an extension of the Mosaic Law into realms of meritorious obligation,’ the people under the Mosaic Law also were saved in a manner different from the present dispensation.

Chafer’s argument could also be illustrated in a diagram as follows:

1. Old Testament – Salvation by legal obedience – In effect until the Cross

2. ‘Church Age’ – Salvation by grace alone – Legal obedience postponed

3. ‘Kingdom Age’ – Legal obedience resumed – On a more perfect basis

In another book (The Kingdom in History and Prophecy, p. 70) Chafer again distinguishes between two different modes of salvation saying this,

“In the light of these seven ‘present truth’ realities we are enabled to recognize how great is the effect of the change from ‘the law which came by Moses’ and ‘grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ.’ And when these changed, age-long conditions have run their course we are assured that there will be a return to the legal kingdom grounds and the exaltation of that nation to whom pertain the covenants and promises.

Yet, this Dispensationalists teach that men in the O.T. were saved by faith in a revelation peculiar to their dispensation, but this did not include faith in the Messiah as their sin-bearer. However the dispensationalist roots in their confessed statement of faith stated that salvation was based on the promise of the Son of God as a sin-barer when they stated as above, “expecting that He, the Son of God, would at His coming, again redeem and deliver the fallen race of man from their sins, their guilt, and unrighteousness.”

It would help to make mention that the Dordrecht Confession was written 1632, prior to Chafer and Scofield dispensational thinking in from the early 20th-century. To bad these men and their theology didn’t stick to their historical roots.


L.S. Chafer Compared to Charles Hodge

DISPENSATIONALISM AND COVENANT THEOLOGY

The following are the major differences between these two systems of theology. They represent the mainstreams of both systems, though there are variations in each. Representative systematic theologies are those of L.S. Chafer and Charles Hodge.

DISPENSATIONALISM

COVENANT THEOLOGY

1. May be Arminian or modified Calvinist.   Almost never 5-point Calvinist. 1.Always Calvinist.  Usually 5-point.
2. Stresses ‘literal’ interpretation of the Bible. 2.Accepts both literal and figurativeinterpretation of the Bible.
3. Usually does not accept the idea of the ‘Analogy of Faith.’ 3. Almost always accepts the idea of The ‘Analogy of Faith.’
4. ‘Israel’ always means only the literal, physical descendants of Jacob. 4. ‘Israel’ may mean either literal, physicaldescendants of Jacob or the figurative,spiritual Israel, depending on context.
5. ‘Israel of God’ in Gal. 6:16 means physical Israel alone. 5.  ‘Israel of God’ in Gal. 6:16 means spiritual Israel, parallel to Gal. 3:29; Rom. 2:28029, 9:6; Phil. 3:3.
6. God has 2 peoples with 2 separate destinies: Israel (earthly) and the Church (heavenly). 6.  God has always had only 1 people, the Church gradually developed.
7. The Church was born at Pentecost. 7.  The Church began in O. T. (Acts 7:38) and reached fulfillment in the N. T.
8. The Church was not prophesied as such in the O.T. but was a hidden mystery until the N.T. 8.  There are many O. T. prophecies of the N. T. Church.
9. All O.T. prophecies for ‘Israel’ are for literal Israel, not the Church.’ 9.  Some O. T. prophecies are for literal Israel, others are for spiritual Israel.
10. God’s main purpose in history is literal Israel. 10.  God’s main purpose in history is Christand secondarily the Church.
11. The Church is a parenthesis in God’s program for the ages. 11.  The Church is the culmination of God’s saving purpose for the ages.
12. The main heir to Abraham’s covenant was Isaac and literal Israel. 12.  The main heir to Abraham’s covenantand was Christ and spiritual Israel.
13. There was no eternal Covenant of Redemption within the Trinity. 13.  The eternal Covenant of Redemption was within the Trinity to effect election.
14. There was no Covenant of Works with Adam in the Garden of Eden. 14.  God made a conditional Covenant of Works with Adam as representative forall his posterity.
15. There was no Covenant of Grace concerning Adam. 15.  God made a Covenant of Grace with Christ and His people, including Adam.
16. Israel was rash to accept the Covenant at Mt. Sinai. 16.  Israel was right to accept the Covenant Mt.  Sinai.
17. The ‘New Covenant’ of Jer. 31:31- 34 is only for literal Israel and is not the New Covenant of Lk.22:20. 17.  The ‘New Covenant’ of Jer. 31 is the same as in Lk. 22; both are for spiritual Israel according to Heb. 8.
18. God’s program in history is mainly through separate dispensations. 18.  God’s program in history is mainly through related covenants.
19. Some Dispensationalists have said that O. T. sinners were saved by works. 19.  No man has ever been saved by works, but only by grace.
20. Most Dispensationalists teach that men in the O.T. were saved by faith in a revelation peculiar to their dispensation, but this did not include faith in the Messiah as their sin-bearer. 20.  All men who have ever been saved have been saved by faith in Christ as their sin-bearer, which has been progressively revealed in every age.
21. The O.T. sacrifices were not recognized as the Gospel or types of the Messiah as sin-bearer, but only seen as such in retrospect. 21.  O. T. believers believed in the Gospel of Messiah as sin-bearer mainly by the sacrifices as types and prophecies.
22. The Holy Spirit indwells only believers in the dispensation of Grace, not O.T. and not after the Rapture. 22.  The Holy Spirit has indwelt believers in all ages, especially in the present N. T. era, and will not be withdrawn.
23. Jesus.made an offer of the literal Kingdom to Israel; since Israel rejected it, it is postponed. 23.  Jesus made only an offer of the spiritual Kingdom, which was rejected by literal Israel but has gradually been accepted by spiritual Israel.
24. O.T. believers were not in Christ, not part of the Body or Bride of Christ. 24.  Believers in all ages are all ‘in Christ’ and part of the Body and Bride of Christ.
25. The Law has been abolished. 25.  The Law has 3 uses: to restrain sin in society, to lead to Christ, and to instruct Christians in godliness.  The ceremonial Laws have been abolished; the civil laws have been abolished except for their general equity; the moral laws continue.
26. O. T. laws are no longer in effect unless repeated in the N.T. 26.  O. T. laws are still in effect unless abrogated in the N.T.
27. The Millenium is the Kingdom of God. Dispensationalists are always Pre-Millenialand usually Pre-Tribulational. 27.  The Church is the Kingdom of God.  Covenanters are usually Amillenial, sometimes Pre-Millenial or Post-Millenial, rarely Pre-Tribulational.
28. The O.T. animal sacrifices will be restored in the Millenium. 28.  The O. T. sacrifices were fulfilled and forever abolished in Christ.
29. The Millenium will fulfill the Covenant to Abraham. Israel has a future. 29.  Christ fulfilled the Covenant to Abraham.  Some Covenanters believe in a future forliteral Israel, most don’t.
30. David will sit on the Millenial throne in Jerusalem. 30.  Christ alone sits on the throne. Saints rule under Him.

Irenaeus was Premil but was He a Dispy?

Irenaeus writes,

“But in Christ every blessing (is summed up), and therefore the latter people has snatched away the blessings of the former from the Father, just as Jacob took away the blessings of Esau.”

I think not.

Quote taken from “Against Heresies”, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999; second printing, 1:493.


Justin Martyr was Premil, but Was He Dispensational?

Justin Martyr writes,

“For the true spiritual Israel, and descendants of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham (who in uncircumcision was approved of and blessed by God on account of his faith, and called the father of many nations), are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ.”

Not hardly folks.

Quote taken from the Dialogue with Trypho, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999; second printing, 1:200.


Charles Spurgeon was a Baptist, but was He a Dispensationalist?

Charles Spurgeon preaches,

These who saw Christ’s day before it came, had great differences as to what they knew,… But they were all washed in the same blood, all redeemed with the same ransom price, and made members of the same body, Israel in the covenant of grace is not natural Israel, but all believers in all ages.

Well, that answers our question, doesn’t it?

Quote taken from “Jesus Christ Immutable,” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 15 – page 8.


Be Ready to Be Raptured!

USA Today said, “Wildy popular – and highly controversial.” Is not that the truth…

Finally at last after all these years we can buy The Left Behind Series Collectors Edition! This is more exciting than having to wait for the Lord of the Rings Collectors Edition.

Misleading and giving false hope to people for over a decade and selling over 63,000,000 copies (no I did not accidentally add three zeros), is the Left Behind series. In case you were wondering where exactly Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins books lined-up in the timeline of God’s eschaton, well guess what I have for you…

I have for you Raymond Steele’s Classical Chart of the “end times” so that you can see what books you’d be interested in reading of God’s plan for the rebuilding of His temple, identifying the antichrist, figuring out the day of the rapture, and what super-cool technology to collect if you are “left behind” if you want to start your own Tribulation Force. Here ya go in case you really wanna know.

For those serious Left Behind fans, be sure to get your end times wallpaper for your PC or Mac.

Left Behind


Extra Theology

These were some links on my old blog that I would like to carry over, in case one might want to use this as a data base. They are listed below.