The Truncated Gospel by James

 

The Truncated Gospel by James

In Paul’s day, he and other Jewish apostles and disciples were attempting to spread the good news of the Jewish Messiah to Jews in Israel, Samaria, and in the diaspora and also to give that news to the Gentiles. Jews had been waiting and waiting for the arrival of the Messiah for centuries, and the need for him to come was especially acute during periods of exile and occupation. Israel was a land occupied by a foreign army and desperate to realize its own liberation and redemption. The news of an arrived Messiah who would be King and who would redeem national Israel would be beyond good news…it would be immense in its impact among world Jewry.

From that point of view, explaining why news of the arrived Messiah would be good news to the Jewish people is a no brainer, but we have to work a little harder (which Paul does) to explain why it is also good news to the people of the nations.

See full article here:

http://mymorningmeditations.com/2013/07/22/the-truncated-gospel/

Refined not Redefined

I’ve seen the discussion about replacement theology on Andrew Strom’s forum that I mentioned a few days ago  has spilled over to a few different sites. I wrote about the issue several times on my earlier blogspot site. Here is one article from that site. (originally posted here: http://onefiles.blogspot.co.nz/2011/06/refined-not-redefined.html )

Israel-Hebrew

Refined not Redefined

Two of the proof texts favoured by the promoters of replacement theology are:

Rom 2: 28-29 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit

And

Rom 9: 6-8 For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.

But to use those texts as support for their theology, the replacement promoters need to totally ignore the clear context of their proof texts.

Regarding Romans 2:28.

Go back several verses and you will read in verse 17:

“ Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God…”

It is specifically addressed to Jews who were trusting in their blood heritage and their relationship to the law. Paul was saying their heritage was not enough. It was not addressing gentiles and saying they have been made Jews through “circumcision of the heart”. It was addressing Jews, saying that MORE than heredity and law observance were needed to be part of God’s people. An inward change worked by the Spirit is necessary.

Regarding Romans 9.

When Paul writes “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.” He is referring to a faithful remnant of the descendants of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.

The statement is excluding SOME of those descended from Israel – it is NOT a statement intended to include others who are not descended from Israel.

It is not a statement that redefines what Israel means. It is a statement that refines what Israel means.

It does not shift the identity of Israel from one group to another – it narrows down the identity of Israel from a wider inclusive ethnic group to a smaller specific section of that wider group.

It pinpoints the faithful remnant AMONG the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is not transferring attention outside of those descendants.

It’s like saying that not all born into a Christian family are Christian – only those who have their own faith in Jesus

Israel Replaced?

Andrew Strom’s blog has an interesting discussion that was intended to look at the validity or otherwise of replacement theology. Reading the article and the comments that follow it, I see a lot of confused and contradictory ideas being expressed. The issue is certainly one driven by ignorance, but considering scripture isn’t confused and contradictory, the ignorance must have a different source.

To me scripture couldn’t be clearer when it comes to the relationship between God and Israel. It is only through leaning on men’s traditions instead of searching the scriptures that this issue has become a point of often heated disagreement. Like so many other contentious issues, the solution is found in accepting what scripture ACTUALLY says instead of reinterpreting parts of it to fit a predetermined theological stance.

http://www.revivalschool.com/replacement-israel-the-church-andrew-strom/

I note that in one sense Strom is opposed to “replacement theology” but overall his view seems confused, typified by statements like this: “it is the CHURCH that is the `apple of God´s eye´ in the New Covenant era – not Israel.” Reading the biblical reference to the “apple of God’s eye” in context surely shows the statement refers to Israel and only Israel. (see Deuteronomy 32:9-11 and Zechariah 2)

 

Anti-Israelism

Over the weekend there were reports of Hamas missiles reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem – fortunately falling outside of populated areas. On hearing that I thought how ironic it would have been if the Dome of the Rock had been hit by one of these wayward missiles.

Then on a Christian forum I saw contributors inferring that Israel had “faked” those missiles:  that Hamas rockets weren’t capable of reaching those distance. I shouldn’t have been surprised. There are still those who see that the September 11th terrorist attacks were an “inside job”.

So, suspicion is already being sown –  IF the Dome of the Rock fell victim, the blame would quickly be turned upon Israel and further hostility stirred up against them. It probably wouldn’t take much to convince many that Israel and not Hamas was to blame – and the “Christian” inferences mentioned above would only add fuel to an already combustible situation.

Gospel of the Kingdom: What about Israel?

 “Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”.

“…they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority”

The teaching of “replacement theology” is not new. It was stirring in the very early years of the church and it is possible that the book of Romans was written to address this issue with the climax of Paul’s argument coming in chapters 9-11 and particularly in chapter 11.

“Did God reject His people? NEVER!!!”

Romans was written to a church that had for a time been made up totally of gentile believers after all Jews had been forced out of Rome by the emperor Claudius. When Nero came to power he allowed the Jews to return, and Jewish believers had difficulty being accepted back into a church that considered their exile had been evidence that God had forsaken the Jews.

The idea that the church has replaced Israel as God’s people because of Jewish disobedience is categorically refuted by Paul in Romans. When he wrote NEVER in Romans 11, the word used was the strongest possible negative exclamation available to him in the Greek language (meganoita!).

Paul also clearly attacks the smugness of those who considered themselves as being those people who had allegedly replaced Israel in God’s affections. (“Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either”).

While Romans addresses a very early incarnation of “replacement theology” there can be no doubt that it is a belief system that refuses to go away, and it is widely held today; despite the historically unprecedented “resurrection” of a long dead nation (Israel) and its language (Hebrew) only 60 years ago.

Why should there be such contention over Israel and its continuing role in God’s purposes? Why are so many determined to dismiss Israel’s relevance despite the events of recent history in which a nation, totally dead and gone as a political entity, returned against the odds to become one of the world’s most powerful military forces; and to become a nation constantly at the centre of world attention. Has there ever been a time since 1948 when Israel, a tiny nation, has not been in the news? Would there be such a continuing obsession with a mere political entity, no matter how unlikely the renewed existence of that entity after 2000 years may seem?

In a previous post I addressed the matter of the “millennium” in Old Testament prophecies. Almost every Old Testament prophet foretold of a time when the nations would be ruled by a King from the throne of David in Zion. The issues of Israel’s continuing importance and the rule of this King are very much linked. It is therefore not surprising that “replacement theology” often goes hand in hand with “amillennialism” – a theology that denies the literal earthly reign of Christ after His return.

Israel is very much tied up with end time events and Satan knows that. He thought he could prevent fulfilment of God’s purposes by leading men to crucify Jesus – but his “victory” was short lived. Satan knows that God’s plans for THIS creation are heading towards an earthly kingdom ruled by God’s Son from the throne of David. Satan knows that the establishment of that earthly kingdom begins with him (Satan) being imprisoned and stripped of his deceptive power, and will end with him being thrown into the lake of fire. It’s not surprising that he would try to prevent the establishment of that kingdom by removing Israel. And it’s not surprising that he would cause so much confusion about the events that mark his final destruction.

I tend to think that Satan’s attempt to destroy Jesus was to prevent the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel under the rule of the Messiah. By killing the Messiah, Satan thought he could stop the kingdom. But God’s plan involved an unexpected twist. The Messiah would come twice, first as a sacrifice then secondly as King to rule over the nations from His throne in Zion.

Satan’s misunderstanding played right into God’s hands. Instead of destroying God’s plans, the death of Jesus FULFILLED them. Satan knows he can no longer prevent God’s Kingdom by destroying the King, so his attention becomes focused on the nation from which the King will rule over the earth.

By turning the church against Israel Satan is trying to kill two birds with one stone. It turns the church away from God’s purposes while trying to rid the world of Israel. The final part of that attempt will come when the beast (Antichrist) launches a massive “final solution” to rid the world of both church and Israel.

Paul made it clear that Israel has not been replaced by anyone. There are many statements in Romans 11 that should dismiss any doubt about Israel’s continued importance to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: the God of Israel.

But true to form, one of the clearest promises made specifically to Israel about its ongoing part in God’s purposes is most often quoted and applied to the church in a most inappropriate way.

“…for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable”.

Instead of applying this to Israel, it is usually applied to disobedient “Christians” who still SEEM to be displaying Spiritual gifts. Implying that disobedient Christians can’t lose what they have been given – while Israel is portrayed as having lost their inheritance because of their disobedience. What a complete twisting of the context and the intended application of that promise regarding God’s relationship with Israel!

So what are we to do with Israel? Should Christians throw unconditional support behind the current political incarnation that goes by that name? Is that what God would have us do? Or does God require that we expect the same standard of righteousness that HE demands from HIS Israel?

It is clearly the latter – and the only way they can attain that standard of righteousness is through faith in His Son, their Messiah.

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” Rom 11:25-27

(This article originally posted on my blospot site 20 October 09)

Israel: refined not redefined

(This is a re-edited combining of two articles previously posted to my blogspot site.)

 ___________________________________

Several months ago I read the following question:

“Lets say hypothetically Israel the nation was wiped of the map. What would that mean to everyone?”

This is my answer to that question:

It should mean nothing to those who look to the truth of God’s word instead of to the world’s political map.

Israel as nation WAS wiped off the map for almost 2000 years – and was restored in 1948.

Their long absence from the map is one of the reasons for the creation of replacement theology. With Israel gone, the church needed to give meaning to the many scriptural promises made to Israel, so they assumed that the church had replaced Israel in God’s plans.

They overlooked the clearest meaning that Israel’s existence did not depend on man’s political “realities”, but on God’s promise. And HIS promises are kept and fulfilled according to HIS timing.

Even if the present day political nation of Israel is wiped off the map again, it would merely mean that Israel will be restored to the land again at some future point in accordance with the prophetic promises given by God.

We should not confuse today’s political nation of Israel with the Israel of God. God’s Israel takes into account people descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob no matter where they live. Despite the creation of the nation state, the majority of Israel remains in exile. One day that exile will end and God’s Israel will be totally returned to the land He promised them and they AS A COMPLETE NATION will recognise their Messiah, Jesus and will enter the new covenant through faith in Him.

Replacement theology (mentioned in the answer I gave above) has become a very popular viewpoint in the church today

Two of the proof texts favoured by the promoters of replacement theology are:

Rom 2: 28-29 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit

And

Rom 9: 6-8 For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.

But to use those texts as support for their theology, the replacement promoters need to totally ignore the clear context of those texts.

Regarding Romans 2:28.

Go back several verses and you will read in verse 17:

“ Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God…”

It is specifically addressed to Jews who were trusting in their blood heritage and their relationship to the law. Paul was saying their heritage was not enough. It was not addressing gentiles and saying they have been made Jews through “circumcision of the heart”. It was addressing Jews, saying that MORE than heredity and law observance were needed to be part of God’s people. An inward change worked by the Spirit is necessary.

Regarding Romans 9.

When Paul writes “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.” He is referring to a faithful remnant of the descendants of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.

The statement is excluding SOME of those descended from Israel – it is NOT a statement intended to include others who are not descended from Israel.

It is not a statement that redefines what Israel means. It is a statement that refines what Israel means.

It does not shift the identity of Israel from one group to another – it narrows down the identity of Israel from a wider inclusive ethnic group to a smaller specific section of that wider group.

It pinpoints the faithful remnant AMONG the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is not transferring attention outside of those descendants.

It’s like saying that not all born into a Christian family are Christian – only those who have their own faith in Jesus.