Israel versus the Church:
A False Dichotomy
[On Sunday, 12-28-08, I was reading Ephesians chapter 2 where it teaches that Christ made Jew and Gentile one body. This reminded me of the pervasive dispensationalist heresy that separates between the nation of Israel and the church. This heresy has run rampant throughout the entire earth and so I wrote this short article in order to warn my little one about it. In terms of Biblical Scholarship, there can be no Biblical Scholarship if one is believing and teaching this heresy. It colors their whole outlook on the scriptures. If a person teaches heresy in their homeschool, they are only confirming and strengthening heresy (Matt 23:15) and find themselves agents of the devil. All misunderstandings and errors must be cleared out so that we can be teachers of the truth of God.]
Many church people today (some call themselves dispensationalists) believe that Israel and the church are two separate entities and that they must remain that way because God has not fulfilled all of his promises to the Jewish people. They say that God still has yet to give Israel the land promised to Abraham--BUT THE SCRIPTURES SAY THAT GOD GAVE ISRAEL EVERYTHING THAT HE PROMISED TO ABRAHAM. THE PROMISES WERE FULFILLED OVER 3,000 YEARS AGO IN THE DAYS OF JOSHUA.
REVIEW OF THE TWO PROMISES
In Genesis 12, God made two great promises to Abraham:
- to make of him a nation; and,
- to give him the land of Canaan.
RECEIPT OF THE PROMISES
While in Egypt, the children of Israel grew to be a nation. When they came out of Egyptian slavery, there were about 600,000 men, beside children (Exodus 12:37). Promise number one fulfilled--they were a nation.
After the death of Moses, Joshua led Israel into the promised land where each man received his inheritance. Promise number two fulfilled--they received the land of Canaan. God gave Israel ALL the land that he sware unto their fathers-Joshua 21:43-45, And the LORD gave unto Israel ALL the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to ALL that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered ALL their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of ANY good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; ALL CAME TO PASS.
Just before Joshua died, he explicitly said that Israel received EVERYTHING that God spake concerning Israel--Joshua 23:14, And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; ALL ARE COME TO PASS UNTO YOU, and NOT ONE THING HATH FAILED THEREOF.
King Solomon confirmed that God gave Israel everything that he said that he would--1 Kings 8:56 Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to ALL that he promised: there hath not failed ONE word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.
This false dichotomy of Israel versus the church gives rise to all kinds of strange and divers end-times schemes. These people (dispensationalists) say that the church will live in heaven with Christ and that Israel will rule on the earth in fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham. Notice here that they even keep Israel and the church separate in the world to come. But do the scriptures keep Israel and the church separate? No. A thousand times, no. The scriptures say that Christ came to make Jew and Gentile ONE body. Let us go to the witness stand--
Witness #1: Ephesians 2:11-22, Jews and Gentiles are One in Christ11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace, WHO HATH MADE BOTH ONE, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;[there is no separation]
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain ONE new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in ONE body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
18 For through him we BOTH have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
19 Now therefore ye are NO MORE STRANGERS AND FOREIGNERS, BUT FELLOWCITIZENS with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; [as a Gentile believer even the prophets are mine through the blood of Jesus--Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, all of them!]
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. [All believers, Jew or Gentile, are ONE building.]
Witness #2: Ephesians 3:3, 5-6, We are the Same Body
3 ...by revelation he made known unto me the mystery...
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6 That the Gentiles should be FELLOWHEIRS, and of THE SAME BODY, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
Witness #3: Romans 4:9-17, We have the SAME Father--Abraham
9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of ALL them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.
13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. [Abraham is not just the father of the Jewish people. He is my father too. We are only ONE family in father Abraham.]
Dispensationalists say that the church was started on the day of Pentecost. But the Bible says that ISRAEL WAS THE CHURCH IN THE WILDERNESS. In speaking of Moses, Stephen said this in Acts 8:37--This is he, that was in the CHURCH in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us.
Israel is the Root of the New Testament Church
The scriptures clearly teach that the church did not start on the day of Pentecost. It already existed. In Abraham, God called out a people and a church for his name. Israel is the root of the New Testament Church. The mystery hidden from the foundation of the world was that the Gentile should be graffed into that root. The Gentiles are not a separate tree.
Those Jews who abide in unbelief are broken off from their own tree through their unbelief. There is not special provision for them in the "tribulation period" (incidentally, the Bible does not teach that Christians will escape the great tribulation. It teaches the opposite and says for us to pray that our flight not be in the winter or on the sabbath day). All they have to do is believe in Jesus Christ and they will be immediately graffed back into their own tree. In speaking of Israel, Paul says this is Romans 11--I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, AND WITH THEM partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
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. [We are all in ONE tree.]
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? [There is only ONE tree. We get in by faith in the blood of Jesus.]
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.
This is a plain, untwisted reading of the holy scriptures. For other witnesses see I Thessalonians 2:14-16, Colossians 3:11, Galatians 3:26-29. There is something out today called, "the Hebrew roots of Christianity," or "Hebrew roots," this is also a heresy--that is not what is being referred to here.
Dispensationalist-type people believe that there will be a "pre-tribulation rapture"--they believe that before the beast (1) takes over (2) makes war on the saints, and (3) requires his mark on each person's body, that all Christians will be "raptured" (rapture is not a Bible word).
The Bible does not teach a pre-tribulation rapture. It teaches tribulation. Because these people believe that they will not partake in tribulation, they are not spiritually or physically preparing themselves, or their children, for what is to come--yea, already IS. They cannot see what is happening before their very eyes. They are so strengthened in deception that they cannot see nor hear. Not only are they deceived, they condemn any one who does not believe in a pretribulation rapture.
A TANGLED WEB
Dispensationalism is such a tangled web, it would take a book to untangle it all, but that is not necessary. There is enough information here to see that it is a heresy. If you study the scriptures, you can immediately spot any heresy and reject it. You mustn't spend your life refuting every detail of every heresy. When heresy comes your way, address the point at which you meet it and move on.
DISPENSATIONALISTS ARE CONVINCED THAT THEY ARE RIGHT
The nature of deception is that you really believe what is false and that you disbelieve what is true. The only way that someone can come out of deception is if they really love the truth. If someone truly loves the scriptures, he will change his beliefs to conform to the scriptures when he sees that he is wrong. Unfortunately, most people feel that they have too much to lose by changing their false belief system. What if a dispensationaltist preacher accepted the truth that he has been preaching a lie? Do you think his preacher friends will congratulate him for leaving deception? Do you think his dispensationalist congregration will be happy with him? There is a good chance that he will lose his place and position. Because many love the praise of men more than the praise of God, they will stay in deception rather lose their position or standing in their community. They cannot even afford to think that their beliefs may be wrong. You have to really love the truth to run this race.
Dispensationalism is a heresy taught all across the face of the earth in "Bible" colleges and seminaries. It is preached and taught from pulpits, in books, and videos. If you go to a dispensationalist church, the people may hand you an armload of books to read about dispensationalist schemes. They will invite you to sit through their heretical Bible studies and maybe have you watch dispensationalist teachers on videos or in conferences. They will use all kinds of sophistry in their sermons. They will take scriptures out of context and wrest with them in the most amazing ways. They will say that you are not a "Bible-believer" if you refuse to believe in dispensationalism. They will also tell you that you have to, "rightly divide the word of truth" as if the scriptures will lead you to dispensationalist conclusions. Then they may send more books home with you to read. If you remain unconvinced, they may berate you, and maybe even call you a heretick or arrogant.
DISPENSATIONALISM IS CONFOUNDED
If a dispensationalist gives you a Bible, it will probably be a Scofield Reference Bible so that you can read Scofield's confounded notes and become a dispensationalist. There is typically one person in the church that is sold-out to dispensationalism and he is labeled the "prophecy expert" in the church. Dispensationalism is so confounded that nobody can understand it except those that have studied it hard. I don't know why anybody would do it. Maybe they want to get through the class, maybe they want to exalt themselves above others, maybe they have been deceived into thinking that it is really the truth. The truth is never confounding. When you hear it and receive it, everything fits together like a hand-in-glove. Questions disappear and other truths become apparent.
AN EXAMPLE OF THE FALSE DICHOTOMY STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH
I did a Google search with the terms "church and Israel" and selected the number one search result which was an article entitled, "Israel and the Church: the Differences" found on the levitt.com website. The following quotes are taken from this article. Notice the author's use of sophistry--someone using fancy arguments based on his own reasoning and not the scriptures. [Aside: Many in the visible church use sophistry (fancy arguments and reasoning, not scripture) to support, yea create, their doctrines. Every once in a while they may throw in a scripture taken out of context. When you listen to man's arguments, you are in deadly territory. You must know the scriptures for yourself, or you will be tricked by their fancy words and fancy educational titles.]
Here is the excerpt from the article--One of the great theological battlegrounds of orthodox Christianity throughout the centuries has been the nature and character of the Church, especially in relation to its biblical predecessor, Israel. The two major views are that:
- The Church is a continuation of Israel
- The Church is completely different from Israel
First View: The Church is Israel
The predominant view has been that the Church is the 'new' Israel, a continuation of the concept of Israel which began in the Old Testament. In this view, the Church is the refinement and higher development of the concept of Israel. All of the promises made to Israel in the Scriptures find their fulfillment in the Church.
...One of the problems with the view, among others, is the continuing existence of the Jewish people... how does one account for Israel's resurgence among the family of nations as an independent nation, victorious in several wars and flourishing economically?
Second View: Israel and the Church are Different
The other view, we believe, is clearly taught in the New Testament, but it has been suppressed throughout most of Church history. This view is that the Church is completely different and distinct from Israel, and the two should not be confused. In fact, the Church is an entirely new creation that came into being on the Day of Pentecost after Christ's resurrection from the dead, and will continue until it is taken to Heaven at the Rapture return of the Lord..."
I take exception to many items in this excerpt; however, I want to address only one item at this time. The author says there are only two major views concerning the relationship between Israel and the church:
- The Church is a continuation of Israel
- The Church is completely different from Israel
He left out the correct choice--Israel is the church in the wilderness and through the mediation of Jesus Christ, God graffed the Gentiles into his church making these twain into one new man. We've already addressed this. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, said this to the Philippian church:Philippians 3:2-3 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
When people say that Jesus Christ did not unite his church, they blaspheme his holy word, and his holy name. They deny the work that he did on Calvary's cross to make us all one--meanwhile confounding multitudes that try to follow their incomprehensible manmade schemes.
A NOTE ABOUT MESSIANIC JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS
There are a few well-known Messianic Jewish organizations that seem to believe that the Jews, because of their race, are God's chosen people even if they do not believe in Jesus. These organizations report on the latest news in Israel and may even quote from the blasphemous Jewish Talmud. I've actually thrown away two books published by the "Jews for Jesus" organization because of disrespect to the person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Messianic Jewish organizations seem to magnify many Jewish traditions that they held before they acknowledged Christ as Messiah. I don't know if they ever sit down to separate out which of their former traditions were Biblical and which were not--which ones should be carried into the new covenant, and which should not. Because of the confounding and mixture, it is not always easy to follow their organization's purpose or to understand what they are saying. Jesus warned about the traditions of men that the Jewish church held to.
I believe that sometimes Christians, aware of their illiteracy in the Old Testament scriptures, go to these Jewish ministries in order to learn more about the Old Testament (I did), but they can end up with all kinds of confusing ideas. Christians do need to know the Old Testament*. Without that knowledge, we cannot truly understand the New Testament--but the Jewish Christian does not necessarily have a hold on it, either, as is clearly seen in the above statement by the the author on the levitt.com website.
*I have learned a lot about the Old Testament in our sanctified school and have found that it is not complex or mystical. I have also found that without a good understanding of the Old Testament the New Testament cannot be completely understood. The great truths of Hebrews cannot be completely grasped without understanding the ministry of the Levitical priesthood. Many of us are reading our Bibles without understanding. This article gives an overview of the entire Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The book of Romans teaches that God has not forgotten nor cast away Israel--his people which he foreknew--but they have to be saved by the blood of Jesus like anyone else and they have to obey the scriptures like anyone else. We are now one family--the Israel of God.
The Bible teaches that there is a dichotomy between the Jew's religion and the church of God--the Jew's religion is a false religion, NOT the counterpart of the gospel. Paul was a Jewish man, in the Jewish religion. He left the Jews' religion and came into the church of God--Galatians 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
Us sinners of the Gentiles, leave the ways of the heathen Gentiles and come into the church of God.1 Corinthians 12:2 Ye know that ye WERE Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
First Corinthians 10:32 shows the three groups:Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
The LORD our God is one LORD. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
There is unity in our faith.
Keywords: Israel and the church are not separate, Israel, versus, Church, vs.