After my small article the other day, I thought it would be wise to further clarify the issue of “the Israel of God”. I had several verses and passages in mind that I didn’t cite. I guess I was thinking that everyone is as familiar with the pertinent Scriptures as I am, but I was wrong.
The subject of replacement theology is a very big one, and is leading several major denominations to divest or boycott Israel. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, this hostility toward Israel will ultimately lead many of these professing Christian churches to support, and approve of, the Antichrist! The recent Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem, Israel, has stirred up some emotions. This subject is far from dead!
Let’s take a look at some of the early Christian Gentiles and see how Paul speaks of them;
What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. Romans 9:30
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: Romans 11:13
In Romans 11:13 Paul is addressing Gentile believers. If they are Israel, why does he still address them as Gentiles?
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. 24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? 25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. Romans 11:18-32
When I was a kid, my father planted an apple tree that had several different varieties of apple grafted in. I’m not sure what the root was, and some of the branches never gave any fruit, but we were able to get several different types of apples from that same tree. I remember one branch bearing Delicious apples, and I think one of the other branches produced something like MacIntosh, or Courtlands, or Ida Reds.
My point is that the type of apple a branch produced did not change when it was grafted into a different trunk. Each branch produced the same type of apple as its original variety, but they all got their life-source from the same trunk.
Verse 25 is not a threat. It is a promise! While God has cut off the majority of Israel for a time, he will graft in their descendants once again, during the Tribulation period! At that same time, the majority of people who call themselves “Christians” will actually support the Antichrist, and the true Church will be gone! At that time it will be Israel who takes the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world!
Verse 26 is another promise to the Jews. The day is coming when Jesus will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. Notice that the Church is never referred to as Jacob. While the Gentile church has the faith of Abraham, and are grafted into the commonwealth of Israel, we retain our identity as Gentiles.
And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. Romans 15:10
Who are His people that we are to rejoice with? Not all of Israel, but with the believing remnant. We are to love all of Israel, but “His people” in this context, are those Jews who are in the Church.
25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. 26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. Romans 15:25-27
Here we have a very clear distinction between two groups of believers. Paul was bringing a contribution from the Gentile believers in Macedonia and Achaia, to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. Paul clearly states that these believers are distinct in their origin, and remain distinct even as brothers in Christ. The Gentile believers owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish believers.
Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Romans 16:4
Again, the Gentile churches were distinct from the Jewish churches, though they were one in Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 1 Corinthians 12:13-15
OK. Here we have a passage that says we are all one body, both Jews and Gentiles. Does this mean that we are all Jews? No! Notice that in verses 14-15 in the context of Jewish or Gentile identity, he clearly states that we are still different, though we are of the same body.
The controversy between Peter and Paul over the Jewish dietary laws is instructive;
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? Galatians 2:11-14
The Gentiles Paul was referring to, in verse 14, were Gentile Christians. If they were changed into Israelites, or Jews, we would see Paul referring to them as such. Such a change is nowhere to be seen in Scripture. We see that Peter, a member and leader of the Church, is still called a Jew, while the Gentile believers, are still Gentiles.
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, Ephesians 3:1
That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Ephesians 3:6
When a Gentile gets saved, by faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, he or she becomes a Gentile member of the body of Christ. We become fellow heirs with the Jewish believers.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
So if we are neither Jew nor Greek, but are all one in Christ, then why does Paul refer to Peter as a Jew?
We have to learn to understand the context in which these statements are made. When Paul says we are neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, he is speaking of the value that God holds for a human soul. God does not value Jews over Gentiles, nor rich over poor, men over women, nor adults over children. Each soul has exactly the same value to God.
If God has the chance to save one Jew, or ten Gentiles, what will He do? Will he value the ten more than the one, or vice-versa? No! He will save eleven people in total!
It all comes down to the character of God in Christ Jesus! He truly doesn’t play favorites. Does this mean that Israel is not the chosen nation? That He has chosen the Church instead? Of course not. Did you see Romans 11: 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Since God made them His chosen nation, He will not repent of that proclamation.
9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God. Romans 2:9-11
Very clearly, being the chosen people does not mean that they are automatically saved. This implies that those who are unsaved are not children of God. What did John the Baptist, or Jochanan the Baptizer, say to the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to him to be baptized?
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Matthew 3:7
What is a viper? It is a snake, or serpent. Who came to Adam and Eve (Chava) in the Garden of Eden, in the form of a serpent? Isn’t John implying that those Sadducees and Pharisees, who came to him for baptism, were children of Satan? If they were children of Satan it is not possible that they could be children of God, nor of the Israel of God, at the same time.
Jesus also uses this same terminology to refer to the leaders in Israel in Matthew 12:34 and 23:33.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Matthew 23:33
Addressing the scribes and Pharisees Jesus makes it plain:
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. John 8:44
These men were definitely descendants of Jacob. They were trusting in their ancestry to save them. In fact they did not think they needed saving, because of their ancestry. Jesus, being God, was trying to show them that they were lost and in need of a Savior.
Getting back to our subject, is it possible that these men were a part of the Israel of God? If their father was the devil, then it is impossible for them to be both children of God, and children of the devil, at the same time. The only conclusion we can come to is that they were a part of the Israel of Satan, the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
So, if we put it all together, Israel is never synonymous with the Christian Church as a whole. The unsaved members of Israel, are beloved, but lost, and thus not a part of the Israel of God. The only people left, to belong to the Israel of God, are the believing remnant of Israel. This is exactly who the Israel of God is referring to… those who belong to both Israel, and to the Christian Church at the same time.
Many professing Christians have proclaimed themselves to be the Israel of God. At best this is an error. At worst it is heresy, and a damnable lie! I am very afraid that if those who believe this error don’t soon repent, they will get caught up in the worship of the Antichrist, and will be lost forever! Once you believe one lie, it is much easier to swallow the next one that comes along!
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Revelation 3:9