Christ at the Center (Pt.5a)

SERIES: Christ at the Center: The Fulcrum of Biblical Covenantalism –

Introduction: Part 1a, 1b, 1c

Jesus and the New Covenant: Part 2a, 2b, 2c,

The Covenant God Incarnate: Part 3a, 3b,

The Role of Jesus, the Word, as the Ground of Meaning and Significance: Part 4a, 4b, 4c,4d

Christ and the Triadic People of God

As the One by whom and for whom everything was created, and who holds it all together for Himself, Jesus’ place in the middle of the Biblical Worldview should be obvious.  As well, He is the Word – the organizing and rational principle in the world – a personal principle (rationality is a product of personality).  So Christ is the “Hermeneutic” to God’s world.  He is the right way of seeing the world, or, I might say that He is the high mountain from which God’s creatures correctly see and understand their lives (Satan took Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, but his vantage point was off.  Satan didn’t see the world through Christ’s eyes).

But Jesus is “the Word made flesh” (Jn. 1:14), and so unites the immaterial and material realms together in Himself.  That is what His work is!

God made this world with humans in mind.  He will restore it with us in mind.  But the restoration will be gradual.  First He must die and be raised in glory (Lk. 24:26), having instituted the New Covenant in His blood and made it with the Church (1 Cor. 11:23-26).  At His second advent He will make it with the nation of Israel (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-28), and then with the Nations.  Through the New Covenant, which is inseparable from the Person and Work of Jesus Himself, the covenant promises of God will finally find their literal fulfillment.  In this Jesus draws the two Testaments together.

I shall say more about this further on.  But this brings us to the hope promised to “the Jew, the Gentile, and the Church of God” (1 Cor. 10:32).  I want to show how Christ’s role in history necessitates His interaction with humanity, though distinctly organized into three distinct people groups in the consummation.  Thus, one humanity will be represented by three humanities – a triadic three-in-one that reflects the Creator eternally.

I shall explore this relationship one by one beginning with Israel.

Jesus and Israel

God’s promises to the people of Israel – the literal descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, are about as strong and clear and unequivocal as anything that God has spoken to non-Israelites in the Church.  I have documented this elsewhere (e.g. here).  But I may say in brief that God’s covenant with the Patriarchs was confirmed and re-affirmed by covenant oaths by which God bound His Name to their eventual fulfillment (e.g. Ezek. 36:22-24; Dan. 9:18-19).  These covenant promises to Israel, in which the land is so conspicuous (Gen. 15; Psa. 105:6-11), cannot undergo transformation or eventuate in unexpected and equivocal fulfillment without God impugning His own character.  God does not use false balances.  He will not require others to stick to “the words of the covenant” (Jer. 34:18), while exempting Himself from the same obligation.  That is why Israel has hope.  That is also why we have hope (1 Thess. 5:24).

The promise God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendents contained temporal conditions in regard to occupation of the land and eschatological blessing (e.g. Lev. 26), but the core ingredients of the promises were unilateral and binding upon God alone.  This is why I have made so much of Jeremiah 33:14-26 in my writing.  The Royal grant to Israel was never a grant to a shadow of the Church but to a separate called out entity, and God through Messiah must fulfill it.  As one non-evangelical scholar has put it,

Then covenant is initiated by the suzerain who is obligated, not the vassal. The covenant is initiated by the suzerain, and is unconditional in the sense that no demands are imposed upon Abraham.”- David Noel Freedman, Divine Commitment and Human Obligation, Vol. 1: Ancient Israelite History and Religion, 173.

Therein lies another important teaching of Jesus in Mathew 22:32:

But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

The Patriarchs today are living witnesses to God’s covenant promises to them now and in the future.  In his day Abraham saw Christ’s day and rejoiced (Jn. 8:56).  He knew the Redeemer would come, and He knew that that would someday mean full covenant blessing through Him.  That blessing happens when “Shiloh” comes and claims the king’s scepter (Gen. 49:10. cf. Num. 24:17; Psa. 2:6-10; Zech. 6:12-13; 8:3; 14:9).  The Apostle places this occurrence at the second coming of Christ when He makes the New Covenant with the Remnant of Israel (Rom. 11:25-27 – Paul cites two Isaianic New Covenant passages).  Thus, the redemption of all peoples has been achieved at Calvary.  This is in all cases a New Covenant redemption or it is not a redemption at all.  The application of the merits of Christ’s sacrifice to the nation of Israel is a second coming event, occurring after the “days of vengeance” of Isa. 61:2b,  at which time the outstanding covenant promises of peace, safety, prosperity and land inheritance will come to fruition, which is why so many times in the OT Israel’s salvation is seen in terms of ethnic and geographical/agricultural blessing as well as spiritual salvation (e.g. Deut. 4:29-31; 30:5-6; Isa. 11:1-10; Hos. 2:16-20).

a. Jesus is not Replacement Israel

At this juncture it is necessary to debunk a recent ploy by supercessionists to arrogate Israel’s covenant blessings for the Church by altering the names of the designees.  Foremost among those who have done this are Graeme Goldsworthy and Greg Beale, but it is also the path taken by advocates of New Covenant Theology like Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum (whose book, Kingdom through Covenant will be reviewed here dv).  How is this switch achieved?

The basic idea is that since Jesus is a Jew and He, unlike His countrymen, was obedient in all things, He is the only representative of Israel to inherit the covenant promises.  Ergo, He stands in Israel’s place as Israel and all the promises are fulfilled in Him – at His first coming!  The Church fairs better than national Israel because of our union with Christ.  This means we can foul up and still inherit the blessings through Him.  If anyone points out that this is both very unfair and disingenuous based on what God has promised Israel, the favorite nominalist proof-text, Romans 9:20 (“who are you to reply against God?…”) is quoted to stop the complaint in its tracks.

The arguments about whether the Church is in or not in the OT is often less than crystal clear and the answer differs depending on who is doing the explaining.  What none of these people can do is locate a text in Scripture which says anything like what they would like it to say.  The best passage is Isaiah 49:3 which says,

And He said to Me, “You are My Servant, Israel, In Whom I will show My glory.” 

In this verse it is possible, even probable, that Messiah is referred to as “Israel.”  (I am also inclined to think Jn. 15:1 with Jer. 2:21 & Psa. 80:8 corroborate this).  But the context of Isaiah 49 makes it clear that He is not the nation, but rather He ensures the salvation and restoration of the nation (49:5-6).  Hence, Messiah is not ethnic Israel but “the Redeemer of Israel” (49:7).  But verse 6 also asserts,

He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth. 

Not only will the Servant (Messiah) “raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the preserved ones of Israel” He will bring salvation to the nations also.  Verse 7 tells Israel that God will do this because He is faithful!  Then we get this:

Thus says the LORD, “In a favorable time I have answered You, And in a day of salvation I have helped You; And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages.

We have commented on this previously when we used it to show that Jesus IS the New Covenant (see also Here).  By this I mean to say that He becomes the New Covenant because He is the One who is the Sacrifice and He is the One who Mediates it.  To be connected to Christ’s resurrected life is also to be connected to the New Covenant.  Notice also how “the land”  promise to Israel is alive and well.  Consider this in the context:

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, And the Lord has forgotten me.” 15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me. – Isa. 49:16 

This is spoken to national Israel – in particular to “the preserved ones” (the Remnant) of verse 6.  The upshot is that those who identify Christ as Israel yet fail to read how He is their Surety have plundered a text for their own aims and been willfully careless about reading in context.  Jesus ensures the covenant survival of national Israel in their God-given land (cf. Matt 19:28; Acts 26:6-7).  No wonder, since like it or not, Israel is still the apple of God’s eye. (Zech. 2:8). 

Next installment

 

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46 comments

  1. Hennebury wrote, “Jesus ensures the covenant survival of national Israel in their God-given land (cf. Matt 19:28; Acts 26:6-7). No wonder, since like it or not, Israel is still the apple of God’s eye. (Zech. 2:8).”

    Acts 26:6,7, of course, says nothing about “covenant survival” or “God-given land.” Nor is there anything in this passage which would ‘carnalize away’ the Gospel on behalf of Dispensationalism’s obsession with ethnic land claims. Paul was preoccupied with the Lord Jesus and the perfect work He had accomplished for Israel on the cross (vs. 22,23).

    So, “the promise made of God unto our fathers (v.6)” is the same “promise which was made unto the fathers” in Acts 13:32,33, a land-free promise fulfilled in the raising up of Israel’s Savior.

    Like it or not, the only apple of God’s eye is Israel’s Savior: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him (Matthew 17:5).”

    And the only apple of God’s beloved Son’s eye is “the Church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28).”

    1. Harmon,

      I see you chose to ignore the main argument of the article and confine yourself to a snipe at the last sentence. In other words, you read out of context. Of course Acts 26:6,7 doesn’t speak of “covenant survival” or God-given land.” But since a saved man is speaking to a knowledgeable ruler about the OT expectations for Israel and the “hope” for “the 12 tribes” is still cast as future, it is clearly in line with those OT expectations: which included national blessings in the land (cf. Jer. 33:14-26).

      Now read that passage and if you can, offer a solid explanation of it from your viewpoint. Or, actually get involved in the main argument of the article.

      You appear to be laboring under the the misapprehension that God’s promises to Israel are at odds with the Gospel. Acts 26:22-23 and 13:32-33 do not veto what God promised earlier. God doesn’t change His mind (Mal. 3:16). Why you think this is a bit of a mystery, but if I were to guess it really has nothing to do with the Gospel and a lot to do with a carnal (I’ll use your word) antipathy toward Israel. Don’t you think covenants mean what they say? Are you within a covenant? This rubbish about “a land-free promise fulfilled in the raising up of Israel’s Savior” is nothing but pious twaddle, clearly contradicting God’s own promises. Doesn’t the integrity of God to keep His covenant promises mean anything to you? Try interacting with these posts where this issue is dealt with more:
      https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/the-parameters-of-meaning-rule-4a/
      https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/the-parameters-of-meaning-rule-4b/
      https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/let-god-be-true-and-say-what-he-means/

      You can’t bring in Matt. 17:5 to contradict Zech. 2:8! God is NOT speaking about Jesus in Zech. 2:8 as even you ought to realize. Your last two sentences are simply ignorant, since you ignored what I wrote in the article.

      Whoever you are, why not try telling those of us with an “obsession with ethnic land claims” how to understand Jer. 33:14ff? No, Harmon, it’s really very easy: it’s just a matter of not agreeing with people like you that God equivocates!

  2. “You appear to be laboring under the the misapprehension that God’s promises to Israel are at odds with the Gospel. Acts 26:22-23 and 13:32-33 do not veto what God promised earlier.”

    Not at all. You, on the other hand, are laboring under the the misapprehension that God’s promises to Israel are the “glad tidings” of an omnipresent Land Gospel. The fact is, what God promised earlier to Israel has been manifested in the Gospel of Christ Jesus: “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us (2 Corinth. 1:20; cf. Hebrews 1:1-3).”

    “This rubbish about “a land-free promise fulfilled in the raising up of Israel’s Savior” is nothing but pious twaddle, clearly contradicting God’s own promises. “

    Here’s the text underlying this land-free “rubbish” and Jesus-centered “pious twaddle.” Show us where “God’s own promises” are clearly being contradicted:

    Acts 13: 32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

    “Your last two sentences are simply ignorant, since you ignored what I wrote in the article.”

    What you wrote in the article concluded by injecting Acts 26:6,7 with “covenant survival,” and by prioritizing dispensationalist Israel as the “apple of God’s eye.” The “last two sentences” are slammed as “simply ignorant” because the scriptures cited will dismantle the article’s dual-promise ideology.

    1. “Harmon,”

      First, I need to apologize for using stronger language than was necessary in my response to you. You are one of many who I come across who scrupulously avoid dealing with any argument other than the one they wish to promote (which is often unargued assertion). I get tired of this kind of sniping and truly wish at least one of you would engage the actual argument instead of deftly sidestepping it.

      Again you ignore my argument and fail to answer any question you were asked. Again you read the Bible out of context, this time seeming to think every promise in Scripture was made to YOU (based on a common supercessionist misuse of 2 Cor. 1:20 – which speaks of promises “in Christ). Further, if the land promise was made to you then you will inherit it. This is why the Psalmist believes the land was covenanted to Israel (Psa. 105:6-11), and Jeremiah (who you were specifically asked about) believed so too. To believe the land promise really wasn’t a land promise is to believe that God equivocates pure and simple. What grounds, then, do YOU have that you are saved? Perhaps the “salvation promise” is really a “salvation-free promise”! Or it may turn out that way. If you say the land promise could become a “land-free promise” then what is to stop that happening with the promise in the Gospel?

      Likewise, to claim God did not promise Israel a specific land is to disbelieve the OT, or else to pit the NT against the OT. In which case you will need to wrestle with this post: https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/top-twenty-reasons-for-not-reinterpreting-the-old-testament-by-to-the-new/

      How has the land promise been “manifested in the Gospel”? The Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection doesn’t include the land promise. That certainly doesn’t mean the land promise vanishes into the ether. Arguments from silence aren’t a good way to proceed. Did you read the above article? How about the others in the series?

      I read Acts 13:32 and 33. Do you want me to take them literally? No problem, the promise spoken of is the promise of a Savior found throughout the OT. In particular, it concerns Paul’s preaching of the coming of Christ and His death and resurrection in line with OT promise. Again, I suppose that promise must be taken at face value? But nowhere in Acts are we told the other covenant promises are abrogated when Jesus comes. That was my point in citing Matt. 19:28 & Acts 26:6-7. Why not engage Jer. 33:14-26 and explain the other covenant promises God made? Does Jesus mean what He says in Matt. 19:28 or is that promise “regeneration-free” and “throne-free” now?

      If you think I injected Acts 26:6-7 with OT covenant expectations we can put that text aside and deal with others, like Jer. 33:14-26 and Matt. 19:28.

      You commit an ad hominen fallacy with your reference to “dispensationalist Israel.” No, Zech. 2:8 is speaking to Israel (“Zion” – 2:7). That is a fact whether one is dispensational or not. Don’t let your antipathy to dispensationalism mar your reading of the biblical text. Just deal with the text!

      You think the scriptures you cite “dismantle the article’s dual-promise theology.” Your passages don’t even mention the promises I called attention to! And here you plunge yourself into a contradiction: you cite 2 Cor. 1:20, which refers to “the promises (plural)” but cite Acts 13:32-33, which refer to “the promise (singular)” against a plurality of promises! Which is it?

      Finally, I think it is a little cowardly and unchristian to hide behind these pseudonyms – especially when you are adopting the kind of hit and run tactics which some commenters use. Therefore, as well as addressing MY arguments (e.g. Jer.33:14-26 or Matt. 19:28), I expect you to identify yourself. It is only fair that I know who you are.

      Regards,

      Paul H.

      1. Dr. Reluctant_ writes: “You are one of many who I come across who scrupulously avoid dealing with any argument other than the one they wish to promote…”

        Exactly! Condemn the attempt to sew “God-given land” into the fabric of Acts:26:6,7, but refuse to deal with the proffered, ‘quasi-dispensationalist’ websites that would explode this single issue into interminable sub-arguments.

        Nevertheless, one item, _Top Twenty Reasons for Not Reinterpreting the Old Testament by the New_, sees the “‘reluctant’ dispensationalist” take up the dispensationalistic mission to assign the Old and New Testaments to separate, interpretive clean-rooms. This is critical for prevention of the dread, Israel-Church “confusion” that would result from applying Christ’s sacrifice for sinners to ethnic Israel’s territorial immortality. Hence, the need to protect this promissory dualism by concocting ornate arguments against “the common tactic of reading the New Testament back into the Old.”

        Jesus Christ, however, the Subject and paramount Participant of the events recorded in the New Testament, embraced the “tactic” of reading Himself back into the Tanakh. The NT writers, consequently, proceeded (and we follow) to “read” into the Old Testament the supreme significance of the Lord Jesus coming to fulfill God’s promises to Israel. That incontrovertible fact precedes the 19th century’s opening of dispensationalism’s interpretive snake oil kit.

        Here, then, are a few cherry-picked passages, shamelessly ripped from their context, which witness the Lord Jesus “reading” back into the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms, the events shaping the New Testament Gospel of which He is the absolute center.

        John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
        Luke 18:31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
        Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, : which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

        Other voices confirm the New Testament’s sublime intention to “read” Christ Jesus into/from the Old Testament:

        Acts 3:18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled (again: cf. Hebrews 1:1-3).
        Acts 8:32  The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
        Acts 10:43 To him [Jesus of Nazareth] give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
        2 Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

        The New Testament has not extracted from the Old Testament, an equivalent interest in national Israel’s so-called ‘unfulfilled’ land destiny. The New Testament is a dead tree for the dispensationalist harvest–as shown by Dr. Reluctant’s eager reading of “God-given land,” back into Acts:26:6,7.

        “Harmon” is an unpublished, unknown, powerless nobody. And, being “a little cowardly and unChristian,” he’s “one of many” who’ll continue the pseudonymicry.

      2. “Harmon,”

        You have had your rant. What you claim I believe is a blatant falsehood. Acts 26:6-7 refers to “the promise made unto our fathers” which “our twelve tribes,” which have clearly not been absorbed into the Church forever, “hope to attain.” My point there was to show that a Jewish hearer would have understood the message of salvation Paul was preaching, and associated it with the hope (never rescinded) of national restoration such as is found in Matt. 19:28 and Acts 3:19f. I even said we should put that ONE text to the side and concentrate on other clearer texts! Because the bile was rising within you you couldn’t manage to deal with God’s Word honestly.

        I am sorry to have to say such things, but you need to examine your motives. It is one thing to disagree with a brother and explain why. It is another to falsely charge him and ignore his arguments while not having the integrity to give your name.

        Every text you have cited I fully agree with. What do you imagine you are proving? That Israel’s land covenant has been expunged? That, sir, is not in ANY verse you quote. It is the product of your own autonomous use of reason. My Rules of Affinity would assign each statement of yours a C5 for inferring a doctrine without any plain biblical warrant. See: https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/rules-of-affinity/

        I do not believe you are a “powerless nobody.” That you choose to remain anonymous yet say the things you have said is hardly a sign of spiritual fruit.

        You have been given enough of a hearing here. Further comments, unless they reflect a better side of you, will be deleted.

        God bless you and yours,

        Paul H.

      3. Hi Paul,

        Your arguments seem better to me that there is a future “land expectation” than Harmon’s position. Having said this, I do not agree with everything you have written in this article or previous articles. Often some think that if they are not refuted by someone then what was stated by them previously stands. I hope this is not the case with you. It may be others are still gathering their ammunition or don’t feel the need, or another reason.

        I don’t see the need to identify with dispensationalists anymore even though I do believe the land promises and am PreMill. All of the “strategic theologies” have failings I think and are evolving and continually modifying their positions.

        Perhaps Harmon has been on the “receiving end” of marginalization from dispensationalists that he wants to maintain his anonymity. Shouldn’t you also “just deal with the text”?

        Both sides in this exchange have resorted to unflattering terms which, in my mind, betrays emotion and not a cognitive response and so have “run out of ammunition”. It is no longer a debate when it devolves into name-calling.

        Jesus is most certainly Israel (Jn.15) but still the promises stand to ethnic Israel in my mind.

      4. Squeaky2,

        I appreciate being corrected on some of my language. I in fact did not call “Harmon” names, but I did include terminology which probably stoked the fires somewhat. I did apologize for that, but I don’t mind the extra admonishment.

        That said, I am persuaded that I was quite right to rebuke Harmon for his procedure and false statements (I might add that he did not even have the grace to address me personally). As for whether he has suffered at the hands of dispensationalists; well, he could have said so and that would have sufficed. But that is conjecture brother.

        There is no reason why anyone should agree with everything I have written. I study hard and pray about my content, but I understand well that I have blindspots. That is why I appreciate good feedback from those willing to argue their corner instead of using the combox to take potshots at mine. Give me an argument and a person will have my respect.

        Now, you say, “Jesus is most certainly Israel (Jn.15).” But that chapter says nothing of the kind. Perhaps you can explain your confidence to me? Isa. 5, if you are referencing it, of course, speaks of a vineyard not a Vine.

        Thanks again brother.

      5. Hi Paul,

        I should have referenced Jn. 15:1 where Jesus said “I am the true vine”. The imagery is clear that Israel was the vine taken out of Egypt from many references. It could be said that this figure was the predominant idea that they thought of themselves: the vine. This is the symbol that was placed in the second temple to refer to themselves: a 15 foot golden vine. It could also be argued that the figure endures since very many Jewish surnames have “wine” (vine) as part of their names as well as other terms that link them with the “vine from Egypt” idea.

      6. “The imagery is clear that Israel was the vine taken out of Egypt from many references.”

        Could you furnish me with some? Psa. 80:8 uses the figure of Israel as a vine out of Egypt, but it is far from clear that Jesus is alluding to it (why should He be?), or that the disciples would have thought He was. From the context of Jn. 15 it seems clear enough that Jesus is simply using an illustration of Vine to branches to show how we can do nothing without abiding in Him.

        I’m not sure where you get the other stuff about the 15 foot golden vine representing Israel. And I am not at all persuaded that you have yet begun to make a case that “Jesus is most certainly Israel.” I need more 🙂

        P.

      7. Dear Paul,

        When Jesus wanted to use a metaphor his opponents would clearly understand, he used the vine/ vineyard as symbolism (Mk. 12) of the nation. You have already referenced Is. 5 and Ps. 80.

        Josephus mentioned the vine as the figure the Jews used to refer to themselves when the Romans wanted to put their symbol in Herod’s Temple. It is very clear that the Israelites’ conception of themselves was the vine.

        Jer. 2:21, Ezek. 15:6, Hosea 10:1 all speak of the vine as referring to Israel. To think that Jesus was only saying in Jn.15:1 a new idea apart from the Israel symbolism misses the point. Sure no branch could produce apart from the tree but Jesus was saying so much more.

        Also, Hosea 11:1 is fulfilled with Jesus coming out of Egypt as God’s son so yes, I think that Jesus is the true Israel.

        I am a bit surprised you are not familiar with the significance of the vine as Israel and Jesus’ claim of being the True Vine. In my mind it is inescapable.

  3. Squeaky2,

    Thank you for a decent scriptural argument (sincerely). I am familiar with the fact that Israel is likened to a Vine/vineyard; a Fig tree, and an Olive tree. Mk. 12 refers to the vineyard, which it is reasonable to equate with Israel. Isa. 5 likewise. The Hos. 10:1 reference is a description of literal work on vines. The Jeremiah and Ezekiel passages support the premise that Israel was sometimes pictured as a Vine; as does Psa. 80:8.

    “To think that Jesus was only saying in Jn.15:1 a new idea apart from the Israel symbolism misses the point.”

    But the point of Jesus discourse in Jn. 15 IS that He is the Source of their/our sufficiency. That the sometime Vine symbolism is being used by Jesus I accept. And you convince me that the Jesus as Israel equation works. Your references also agree with Isa. 49:3 which seems to equate the Servant/Messiah with Israel (see the article above). Therefore I accept your argument.

    I must, however, stress as I did above, that this Jesus = Israel symbolism, if it leads to replacement theology, is false. This is clearly true of all the passages cited. Israel as a national entity has its covenant hope. Thus, the argument I make is not altered. Even Jn. 15, since it has New Covenant overtones, distinguishes Jesus from Israelites.

    Good work 🙂

    I have added a few words to the article to reflect this. I shall reply to your other comment tomorrow DV.

    1. Paul,

      Can you envision any scriptural controls/guidelines for understanding when Jesus has deliberately chosen a metaphor that is meant to convey ideas beyond the main teaching point? It feels like human reasoning is a big part of how one deduces the meaning of these symbolic references. While I think the ‘Israel as Jesus’ by way of the vine/vineyard metaphor stands, what of His use of other metaphors? If the same approach is taken with the John 10:7-9 door metaphor (and drawing upon the sheep imagery), couldn’t the case be made for ‘Jesus as the Valley of Achor’? As follows:

      – Valley of Achor as a ‘door of hope’ – Hosea 2:15b
      – Valley of Achor a ‘place for herds to lie down’ – Isaiah 65:10
      – Jesus is the door through which the sheep enter – John 10:7-15
      – Jesus as the Valley of Achor

      (I’ve deliberately ignored the main teaching point in the verses above)

      I know the above is absurd, but isn’t the reasoning the same? Has Jesus deliberately chosen the door metaphor to say so much more? If so, what is He saying and how is that determined?

      Regards,

      Sam

      1. 🙂 To be fair Squeaky2 had a better argument because of Jn. 15:1. The argument above IS the kind of misuse of allusion which one finds in Covenant Theology, and which I complained about in my review of Beale’s NT Theology.

        I tell my students never to formulate doctrine except from clear and direct statements of Scripture. Never from types or allusions.

        God bless,

        P.

  4. Dear Paul,

    Thank you, for your personal blessing of me and mine.

    Rule of Affinity C5: “a proposition based on a theological inference which itself based on other theological inferences without reference to plain statements of Scripture (e.g. Sunday being ‘the Christian Sabbath’ and replacing the Jewish Sabbath; infant baptism and salvation inferred from inclusion into ‘the covenant of grace’).”

    Though this may not be received as “a better side” of me, I have a question concerning the “plain biblical warrant” for the promissory dualism that is ’theologically inferred’, though not plainly expressed, throughout your internet oeuvre. Would you, please, respond to the following by citing the “plain statements of scripture” required by Rule C5:

    Does the bifurcation of God’s promises to Israel (into land-centered, earthly blessings and Christ-centered, heavenly blessings) mean that land promise fulfillment is a category of divine action untouched by the atonement of Israel’s Savior (Acts 5:31;13:23) ?

    Together in Him,

    Harmon

      1. FYI: “Harmon” is a 71-year-old fellowshipping (for 7 years) with a small Brethren Assembly with many members who’ve accepted the Israel-Church Distinctionism taught by “Dr. Relectant.” We are joined, happily, in our love for the Lord Jesus and rejoice together in His finished work. Our worship and active interest in one another reflects this. The Lord has not allowed eschatological disagreement to surface and pollute this blessed interaction within Christ’s local Body. “Harmon,” therefore, guards his anonymity on the Internet because he knows his “position” has the potential to cause a vile disruption of relationships precious to his Savior, to him, and his family.

    1. Harmon,

      Let me have a go at this:

      “Does the bifurcation of God’s promises to Israel (into land-centered, earthly blessings and Christ-centered, heavenly blessings) mean that land promise fulfillment is a category of divine action untouched by the atonement of Israel’s Savior (Acts 5:31;13:23) ?” Basic answer: Not sure what you’re asking in the first part, but the land-promise is dependent upon Israel being brought under the New Covenant.

      First, let me clarify that the Rules of Affinity (RoA) categorize the rapport between a statement about the Bible’s teaching and the verses used to back up that statement. I do not believe we should be formulating doctrines from C4 or C5 propositions. Ideally, as in my Positive Application of the RoA (https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/positive-application-of-the-rules-of-affinity/) there should be a very close affinity between theological statement and the scriptures used to defend it.

      Let’s look at your two passages: Acts 5:31 says, “”He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”

      The text declares that Christ has been exalted to the right hand of God’s right hand as “a Prince and a Savior” for the purpose of granting repentance to Israel and forgiveness. The text says nothing at all about “the bifurcation of God’s promises to Israel,” nor does it mention the land-promise. Since it doesn’t mention these things where are you getting them from? Assuredly not from the passage. Rather, you appear to be inferring that since Christ is exalted as a Prince at the right hand of God He is now reigning on David’s throne? I may have that wrong but I’m trying to understand where you are coming from here. Forgive me if I’m wrong.

      Since Peter is speaking to the Jewish leadership he is telling them that the message of salvation he is preaching is assured by what God has done in Christ. Acts 3:17-21 should be studied here because they plainly show that the exalted Christ was ready to return and bring “the times of refreshing” if Israel would repent. These “times of refreshing” as non-dispensationalist F.F. Bruce pointed out, are synonymous with the “regeneration” of Matt. 19:28 which I referred you to. Therefore, since nothing in Acts 5:31 deals with anything in your statement I would say there is little or no affinity between the two. There is a lot of reading in of inferences, like, the land-promises to Israel are not literal but are symbolized in the forgiveness of sins,” or something like that. But Acts 5:31 doesn’t say anything about that.

      The second text is Acts 13:23: “From the offspring of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus.”

      Paul is speaking to Jews in Pisidian Antioch and relating to them that the Son of David, Jesus, has, according to promise, “brought to Israel a Savior.” There is nothing in the passage or the context which says anything about your concerns in your question. Therefore, this again cannot be used to support your concerns. What seems to be inferred here is that because the word “promise” is in the text, there must only be one promise made to Israel and it is forgiveness of sins. But what do you make of this?

      “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. 25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 “And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.- Ezek. 36:24-28.

      This is a New covenant prophecy given to Israel that includes promises of the land (twice), and the new birth. It is undergirded by covenant language in v.28. So here there are two promises, only one of which is being mentioned in Acts 13. This is because, as Paul tells us in Romans 11:25 that “partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in.” The “fulness of the gentiles” has not yet come in. Therefore, the blindness on Israel remains – until the Second Advent. As I have tried to show in these posts, the New covenant is made with the Church at the first coming, and will be made with the nation of Israel at the second coming. Ezek. 36ff. pertains to the second coming, ergo the land promise is still very much alive.

      Back to Acts 13; your apparent view of “promise” as “forgiveness only” not only contradicts what I’ve said above (plus Jer. 33:14-26 etc.), it is unworkable. Has God promised US forgiveness only? Hasn’t He promised us a glorified body (1 Jn. 3:1-3)? There is more than simply the promise of forgiveness. God will make good on all His promises!

      This answer is pretty long, and I hope you see what I’m saying. Basically, against the RoA your question with its supporting verses is a C5 built on inferences not actually stated in the texts you employ. it may be that you will want to revise the question or explain your use of the Acts passages.

      I’m not sure about “land-centered, earthly blessings and Christ-centered, heavenly blessings.” Are you referring to Darby’s dichotomy (which you will not find in my writings)? Are you saying all blessings are immaterial? Again, I’m digging in the dark here. Can you help me?

      God bless,

      Paul

  5. Brother Paul,

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I have a busy family weekend ahead of me, so please allow me some time to give it the considered reply it deserves.

    Yours in Him,

    Harmon

  6. Paul wrote: “…Basic answer: Not sure what you’re asking in the first part, but the land-promise is dependent upon Israel being brought under the New Covenant.”
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    I believe the futurity enshrined in the “basic answer,” overlooks the purpose and significance of the letter to Hebrew members of the Body of Christ, the Church–already brought, as you’ve observed, under the New Covenant. The letter, directed specifically to Christian Israel, states, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man (Hebrews 2:9).“ The Blood of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ, then, issues from the sacrifice accomplished on the Cross at Calvary, and so, there’s no sense, either in this verse or elsewhere in the letter, of an unopened, Israel land-future.

    The letter deals, extensively and intensively, with Christ Jesus as the ultimate manifestation of God presence in the worship life of Israel (Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:7-12), but it never alludes to how “the land-promise is dependent upon Israel being brought under the New Covenant.” Rather, we’re told, 1) the New Covenant [diatheke] replaces the Old Covenant (Hebrews 8:13), 2) the New Covenant has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 12:24), 3) the everlasting New Covenant is to motivate the lives of Hebrew Christians (Hebrews 13:20,21). Most significant, is that the blood of the New Covenant (Matthew 36:28) is the blood (Acts 20:29) which has purchased “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).”

    Consequently, when the Lord Jesus says, “This cup is the new testament [diatheke] in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me (1 Corinth. 11:25), His command has no bearing on Israel’s territorial destiny because He points only to Himself, “…to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel (Hebrews 12:24).

    Paul wrote: “This answer is pretty long, and I hope you see what I’m saying. Basically, against the RoA your question with its supporting verses is a C5 built on inferences not actually stated in the texts you employ. it may be that you will want to revise the question or explain your use of the Acts passages. 

    I’m not sure about “land-centered, earthly blessings and Christ-centered, heavenly blessings.” Are you referring to Darby’s dichotomy (which you will not find in my writings)? Are you saying all blessings are immaterial? Again, I’m digging in the dark here. Can you help me?”
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Paul, this is what I think you’re saying–that Acts 5:31;13:23 have been cited in order to infer/indicate, somehow, the presence in them of ”bifurcation.” Obviously, that is not the case since both deal exclusively, as you’ve acknowledged, with Christ’s fulfillment of Israel’s salvation hope.

    This is the very point: “the Acts passages” contain not a scintilla of reference to land, nor does the expanded context of Acts 3:17-21. In 3:13, “the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus,” so that the closing lines of the chapter(3:25,26), addressing “the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers,” invoke the resurrection of Jesus “…in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” Once again, the text is centered in the forgiveness won for Israel by Christ Jesus.

    Incidentally, the phrase you quote, “forgiveness only,” is not found, nor is the concept implied, in my commentary. “Forgiveness of sins,” however, should be accentuated because it recurs as the core blessing of the Gospel (Acts 5:31; 13:38; 26:18; Eph.1:7; Col.1:14). It is this “forgiveness” purchased on Calvary that gives Jew and Gentile believers their “glorified body” allows them to be “clothed in white raiment,” to eat “of the tree of life,” and to “look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” Consequently, those promises to Israel that “God will make good” are inseparable from “forgiveness of sins”: “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31).” If the ”more” you refer to involves territorial entitlement for an ethnicially-defined Israel, then “plain statements of scripture” are required.

    So where is this elusive, promissory “bifurcation” located? Well, it isn’t evidenced by scripture, but it does speak out in Dispensationalist interpretation, when the division between land-centered and Christ-centered promises to Israel becomes a hermeneutical modus operandi. The passages in Acts 3, 5 and 13 cited above are trophies of un-bifurcated Christ-exaltation which uplift God’s promise to Israel and the preeminence of forgiveness. There is no comparable scripture in Acts touching land-centered, earthly, blessing for Israel.

    You once wrote, “You are right to point out the difference in material promises to Israel and “spiritual” promises to the Church, although I would not cleave to the earthly/heavenly dichotomy as some older dispensationalists did (‘Christ at the Center [Pt.2b]’, Reply-Comment 3-John Gregory).” Nevertheless, whether Darbyite or Heneburyian :-), a systemic “dichotomy” underpins the interpretive routines you share with JND. My question had witnessed the fact of “bifurcation” in your tradition. It wants to understand how the invincible, land promise to ethnic Israel interacts with Christ’s atoning sacrifice for Israel’s sinners–especially since the New Testament demonstrates no “affinity between [the] theological statement” of land-promise, “and the scriptures used to defend it.”

    Every material promise from God proceeds only from Jesus who said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” so that Apostle Paul writes to the Church at Ephesus, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He [God] might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him (1:10).” The chapter concludes by linking His consummate authority, with His unitary, saved people, “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all (vs.22,23).” You will not find, anywhere in these splendid verses, a distinctive, land-based, Israel program moving in parallel with Christ’s finished work for His people.

    I hope this helps a little,

    Brother Bruce

    1. Dear Bruce,

      Thank you for your response. It would, i think, be unhelpful to go line by line through it. More especially because it overlooks the Old and New Testament covenant passages I have produced to prove my thesis. For example, I note that you cite a comment of mine from Part 2b of the present series, but you do not address any of the specific arguments I bring forth in Part 2. The same is true of my arguments in Part 4c & 4d, and indeed in this thread. The OT is bypassed as if it didn’t say what it says.

      As I have said before, brother, an argument from silence is rarely a sound argument. But this is really what much of your comment above consists in. The land-promise is missing so it must have disappeared. Every promise is fulfilled in Christ at Calvary. Except it isn’t. This is why I brought up Matt. 19:28 for instance. Recall that in Part 2a and 2b I showed that Israel’s New Covenant blessings do not come until “the Branch” is reigning, which comports with Matt. 19:28, Acts 1:6; 3:17-21 and Rom. 11:25f. You aver that because Acts 3:17-21 does not specifically mention the land promise that the “times of refreshing” do not allude to it. But Jews would not have interpreted through your eyes. Their only Bible was the OT, and they would have repaired there to understand “the times of refreshing,” or “restitution of all things,” or “regeneration” (Matt. 19:28). They would think of Isa. 2, 11, 35, 43-46 and 62. They would equate it with Isa. 51:3, 52:9-10; Ezek. 34:23-31; 36: Hos. 2:14ff.; Mic.4, etc. Since the promise of Acts 3 is after Calvary it cannot be fulfilled at Calvary.

      This throws us once again upon the horns of Jer. 33:14-26 and the reign of Christ at His second advent (something I also referenced in Part 3b). It also forces one to confront the 40 Reasons posts: https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/forty-reasons-for-not-reinterpreting-the-old-testament-by-the-new-the-first-twenty/

      I’m afraid arguing from silence while restricting your argument to certain NT passages (like Eph. 1 which speaks of the Church), while ignoring the OT covenants not only fails to engage my arguments, but it also gives the appearance of devaluing the Old Testament. I cannot see how you can dodge the problem I cited in Reason #20 of the NT being treated as more inspired than the OT.

      The Book of Hebrews does not say it is written to “Hebrew members of the Body of Christ.” We must be careful here. I cannot enter into the issues here, but the Warning Passages in the Book, added to its very OT flavor, and its eschatology should give us pause in applying all its truth to the Christian Church. But that aside, the points you raise do nothing to set aside what was promised in the unconditional covenants to Israel. You must tackle the questions that have been previously put to you, and/or the specific Scripture arguments presented in this series. I can agree that the Church unifies Jew and Gentile while strongly disagreeing that the Church is the only group God is or ever shall be concerned with.

      Thanks again for your comment.

      Your brother,

      Paul

      P.S. It may be easier if we confine our remarks to Jer. 33 and see where we’re coming from after that.

  7. Dear Brother Paul,

    I’ve spent some time with your most recent reply. Here are some points for your consideration:

    “For example, I note that you cite a comment of mine from Part 2b of the present series, but you do not address any of the specific arguments I bring forth in Part 2. The same is true of my arguments in Part 4c & 4d, and indeed in this thread. The OT is bypassed as if it didn’t say what it says.” 


    It is impossible to bypass the OT if we understand that the Lord Jesus is the unique heart, and the sole objective, of the flawless continuity between Old and New Testaments. The force of this continuity is well-established in the Lord’s epistle to the Hebrews. Your comment, with or without the “specific arguments” in your series, simply shows you do recognize a pivotal bifurcation or dichotomy which colours all your commentary–“the difference in material promises to Israel and “spiritual” promises to the Church.”

    “As I have said before, brother, an argument from silence is rarely a sound argument. But this is really what much of your comment above consists in. The land-promise is missing so it must have disappeared.

    Citing scripture that a) uplifts the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, and b) is completely void of Israel land claims, is not, by any stretch, an “argument from silence.” The land-promise isn’t “missing,” nor has it “disappeared”; its absence is preternatural. The so-called “argument from silence,” is actually a ‘request for evidence’, asking for the exact location of land claim scripture–not, of course, as a direct statement of fact, but as an inferential or implied textual presence. Your response to the total absence of land claim scripture matching the prophecy-fulfilling, Christ-exalting scriptures has been total silence.

    Matthew 19:28, “That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration [paliggenesia] when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel,” has not solved the silence but, again, displays the Person who is the author and finisher of Hebrew faith and now “is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).” In Matthew 25:31 He is also seated upon “the throne of his glory” after coming with the holy angels, when His judgement sends some “into everlasting punishment,” and “the righteous into life eternal.” The “throne of His Glory” doesn’t presuppose the prior restoration of territory to an ethnocentric nation-state, but foresees the judicial environment of Christ’s preeminence described in Acts 17:31, “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”

    “Every promise is fulfilled in Christ at Calvary. Except it isn’t.”

    Paul, I have to admit, I read comments like this with relief because it means the argument is no longer aimed at my position but at the scriptures themselves. Apparently, when Paul writes, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us,” your own “argument from silence” amends Paul with the dispensational parenthesis, (‘all the promises of God, that is, except for the land promises to a future, ethnic Israel’). Fortunately, this denial of the promissory extent of Christ’s redemptive work for Israel is ‘sacked’ by Paul’s teaching to the Romans, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers (15:8),” and to the Galatians, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ (3:16).”

    “But Jews would not have interpreted through your eyes. Their only Bible was the OT, and they would have repaired there to understand “the times of refreshing,” or “restitution of all things,” or “regeneration” (Matt. 19:28). They would think of Isa. 2, 11, 35, 43-46 and 62. They would equate it with Isa. 51:3, 52:9-10; Ezek. 34:23-31; 36: Hos. 2:14ff.; Mic.4, etc. Since the promise of Acts 3 is after Calvary it cannot be fulfilled at Calvary. “

    The notion of ‘Jews not interpreting through my eyes’ is an irrelevant projection since Acts 3:13-26 stands on its own, free from the hazards of a Jewish mental perception. Indeed, the idea of Jewish eyes equating “the times of refreshing,” or “restitution of all things,” or “regeneration” with the fulfilling of land claims, suggests a rhetorical ineptness on the part of the Holy Spirit in conflating the fulfillment of a Jewish land promise with “…those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled (v.18).”

    The Lord Jesus never instructed Jews to read territorial restoration into the scriptures, but to see them like Bereans, for “they are they which testify of me (John 5:39).” The ‘authentic Jewish mindset’ approach to passages from the Acts needs to consider how the preaching of Christ Jesus to the Jews from the Old Testament always eschewed dispensationalism’s land fixation (Acts 17:1-4; 18:28; 28:23,24). Christ Jesus, alone, was taught to Timothy, a Jew, from “the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).”

    “The Book of Hebrews does not say it is written to “Hebrew members of the Body of Christ.” We must be careful here. I cannot enter into the issues here, but the Warning Passages in the Book, added to its very OT flavor, and its eschatology should give us pause in applying all its truth to the Christian Church. “

    If the Hebrew letter is not “written to ‘Hebrew members’ of the Body of Christ,” then who _are_ these out-of-Body Hebrews being exhorted to do the will of the God of peace, “…working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20,21)”? And if we cannot apply all the “truth” of the Hebrew letter to the Church, where are those unspecified truth-portions that don’t apply to the people purchased by His blood? I hope this doesn’t involve doing CPR on Dispensationalism’s para-scriptural claim that ‘Book X, Chapter X or Passage X in the Bible is meant for the Jews, but not for the Church (or vice versa)’. The “OT flavor” doesn’t turn Jewish eyes (or ours) toward land claims, but toward “..Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).”

    To be in Christ Jesus is to be a member of His unitary Body. When we read Romans 12:5, “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another,” Jewish believers aren’t set apart. When we read Hebrews 13:20, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,” Gentile believers aren’t excluded. It would be fascinating to learn where the bifurcation is doing its work in this letter to Hebrew Christians.

    I can understand not wanting to “enter into the issues here.” Those “issues” would require the skill of an hermeneutic adept, in order to rescue the indomitable Israel-Church Distinction from its fatal collision with Galatians 3:28: “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.”

    “You must tackle the questions that have been previously put to you, and/or the specific Scripture arguments presented in this series. I can agree that the Church unifies Jew and Gentile while strongly disagreeing that the Church is the only group God is or ever shall be concerned with.”

    Every point raised by these “questions” has been tackled by the scriptures cited. They have highlighted God’s fulfillment of Israel, as prophesied, in the Gospel of Messiah Jesus and Him crucified. They show no awareness of land promise.

    The church _is_ the only group. If it isn’t, then the reference, in 1 Timothy 3:15, to “…the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth,” would like to see the scripture reducing the Church to a co-item in the pantheon of God’s concern for non-Church groups. I suspect the supremacy of a blood-bought Church in scripture is ‘dangerous’ because it obliterates Dispensationalism’s distinctive, binary model: a parenthetic, recent, Gentile/Jewish, Messiah-blessed Church in abiding isolation from an ancient, purely Jewish, messiah-expectant Israel. The model, however, shrivels under the supernal Gospel declaration that opens, and then governs, the letter to Hebrew Christians in the Body of Christ:

    1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

    “P.S. It may be easier if we confine our remarks to Jer. 33 and see where we’re coming from after that.”


    Paul, I don’t believe Jer.33 will ease us. We’ve been focusing our remarks upon Acts 13:38; 26:18; both recapitulate the prophetic, Gospel-only backbone of Acts 3:18, “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” These “things” bespeak a glorious fulfillment grown from the messianic root of the Old Testament (Hebrews 1:1-3, again!). A Jeremiah 31 held in a hermetically sealed, dispensationalist container is pre-committed to your bifurcation; it will isolate Israel’s supposed land-friendly and ethnically-gated destiny from God’s final, perfect, redemptive work in Christ Jesus who is “The Lord our righteousness (cf. Hebrews 1:8; 1 Corinth.1:9; Philippians 3:9).”

    I’d really like to see the ball, now in your court, returned with explicit, ‘Affinity Rule C5’ scriptures that plainly discern the interaction between God’s “material promises to Israel and ‘spiritual’ promises to the Church.” A position that stands immoveable in the ‘Israelianity’ extracted from Jeremiah 33, and then looks over at the New Testament through a fixed-focus, pre-Gospel lens, has to do this.

    In Christian love for the Gospel of Christ Jesus,

    Brother Bruce

    – – – – – – This has been a long reply. I know, from Googling :-), you are a prolific Christian thinker with many responsibilities, so this might be a good time for me to leave the thread. Perhaps you’ll allow me, in the future, to re-engage the dialogue. I apologize to you and your readers for the slanging at the outset. I should have reminded myself that you and I worship the Savior who loved us unto death. Praise His Name!

    1. Well, to risk entering into an exchange which I’m not really a party to :-), I do find it odd Harmon that you would make appeal to Galatians 3:28 as if it erases all distinctions between peoples of God–a claim which goes beyond the context of the verse.

      Those “issues” would require the skill of an hermeneutic adept, in order to rescue the indomitable Israel-Church Distinction from its fatal collision with Galatians 3:28: “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.”

      If the “neither Jew nor Greek” proves to be a fatal collision with an Israel-Church role distinction, then the same could be said of male/female role distinctions–not to mention master/slave role distinctions. Yet Paul upholds both as is easily seen from numerous passages which uphold these role distinctions. It is simply over-simplistic (in my view) to wave the Galatians 3:28 ‘wand’ (normally found in the service of feminist egalitarians) and pronounce all Israel/Church distinctions as having been erased.

      For one thing, Romans 11:28-29 makes clear that unbelieving Israel (enemies of the gospel) are presently and ongoing the elect of God. Since enemies of the gospel are neither believers nor spiritual descendants of Abraham, in what sense can they be declared as ‘elect’ if not on account of their physical descent from Jacob as Paul makes clear? Galatians 3:28 has in view the means and access of salvation–and does not concern all role distinctions within the plan of God as you seem to hold.

      1. Tom, I’m sorry I’m late with this. I appreciate your response to the exchange, and would like to place a few longish points before you as I leave the thread. Here’s Galatians 3:28 in its immediate surroundings:

        “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:27-29).”

        1. These verses do not erase categories operating in the world, but they _do_ erase ethnic, civil and gender status within “Abraham’s seed” who’ve “put on Christ.” Going “beyond the context of the verse,” is what happens when it is used to argue for the existence of more than one people of God outside Christ Jesus.

        2. When Dispensationalist bifurcation collides with Paul’s inclusion of “Jew” in his categories (3:28), it kills the double-election that places the Jewishness of Christ-rejecting Israel (elect on the basis of racial/cultural heritage alone) alongside the Body of blood-bought believers (elect by faith in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus alone).

        3. Galatians 3:28, curiously enough, has become a “wand” for futurist Israelophiles just as it has for feminist egalitarians. The no-brainer observation that ‘distinctions don’t disappear’, has been spun to protect “Jew” as a continuously divine people-group.

        4. The “one thing Romans 11:28-29 makes clear” follows from Romans 11:17, “And if some of the branches [Jewish] be broken off, and thou [Gentile], being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree…” It is clear, “the good olive tree” in Christ Jesus consists of an integrated, racial body–a believing Jewish remnant “according to the election of grace (v.5),” and “wild” Gentiles who are also “…the elect of God, holy and beloved… (Colossians 3:12).” Romans 11: 28,29, therefore, doesn’t dismantle Galatians 3:28’s nullification of Jewish identity in becoming “heirs according to the promise.”

        5. All Jews and Gentiles were unbelieving “enemies” of the Gospel before being “justified by His blood” (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21). The Dispensationalist dogma, that ‘all ethnic Jews (while viciously rejecting Jesus Christ) are God’s Beloved Enemy’ disintegrates under the Lord Jesus’ condemnation in Revelation 2:9; 3:9, “…and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9).” The “blasphemy” doesn’t refer to deceitful bloodline claims by non-Jews, but to “outward Jews” without Christ whose circumcision is not that “of the heart” and ”in the spirit (Romans 2:28,29).”

        6. Concerning the free-standing supremacy of “their physical descent,” Paul “makes clear” earlier in Romans (9:1-8), “…They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” So he writes to Galatian Gentiles, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise (4:28).” The Lord Jesus says this about physical, Abrahamic descent, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham… …You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father (John 8:39,44).”

        7. Finally, this is what Scripture ‘holds’ concerning “role distinctions within the plan of God”: “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life (1 John 5:11,12).” The former belong to the Body of Christ, the Church–the latter do not. This critical distinction applied at the time of its delivery, during the millennia that followed, and it apples to the world today. It is the only way to identify “the people of God.”

        May the Lord Jesus be praised,

        Harmon

      2. Hi Harmon,

        Thanks for taking the time to respond. I’ve added some additional comments in reply. No need to continue as I’m sure neither of us has unlimited time for this and it sounds like you may be leaving the thread.

        Leaving Galatians 3:27-29 in place for continued reference:

        “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:27-29).”

        Harmon: 1. These verses do not erase categories operating in the world, but they _do_ erase ethnic, civil and gender status within “Abraham’s seed” who’ve “put on Christ.” Going “beyond the context of the verse,” is what happens when it is used to argue for the existence of more than one people of God outside Christ Jesus.

        Contrary to your assertion, this passage does not erase ethnic, civil and gender status within “Abraham’s seed” (believers) which was my point. I was not appealing to the passage in regard to unbelievers–who are entirely outside of its scope. The fact is that within “Abraham’s seed” these distinctions remain. In regard to male/female distinctions within the faith, we have for example 1Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-28; Col 3:18-20. Similar can be said about master/slave role distinctions found in Eph. 6:5-9 and Philemon. All the verse says is that all these distinctive roles (which continue to exist after salvation just as they did before) have equal access to salvation and equal standing before God as believers. But the roles themselves remain and continue to serve their God-intended divine purposes (like the adopting purpose for national Israel among the nations of the earth).

        Harmon: 2. When Dispensationalist bifurcation collides with Paul’s inclusion of “Jew” in his categories (3:28), it kills the double-election that places the Jewishness of Christ-rejecting Israel (elect on the basis of racial/cultural heritage alone) alongside the Body of blood-bought believers (elect by faith in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus alone).

        I don’t see how one can avoid concluding these are separate electing purposes. The one applies only to blood-bought believers by faith while the other applies to “enemies of the gospel.” Clearly the election of racial/physical/cultural Israel in God’s purposes is separate from election to faith of believers, although believing Jews fall into both electing purposes in our time being members of the believing Jewish remnant. These two elections, in turn, contribute to an expectation that God has a unique, separate purpose for the elect nation which differs from the elect church (made up of Jew/Gentile, male/female master/slave). And this is what we see when we take the time to understand many OT passages at their face value (e.g. Zec. 14:16-17).

        Harmon: 3. Galatians 3:28, curiously enough, has become a “wand” for futurist Israelophiles just as it has for feminist egalitarians. The no-brainer observation that ‘distinctions don’t disappear’, has been spun to protect “Jew” as a continuously divine people-group.

        I think your characterization of Galatians 3:28 as a wand for futurists who see an Israel-Church distinction in the plan of God would be difficult to document. I’ve never appealed to Galatians 3:28 when making the Scriptural case for God’s continued purpose for Israel. The only reason I frequently wind up discussing it is simply because folks with your view frequently retreat to it for supposed support of all racial distinctions being erased from the cross forward–something which the verse does not say.

        Harmon: 4. The “one thing Romans 11:28-29 makes clear” follows from Romans 11:17, “And if some of the branches [Jewish] be broken off, and thou [Gentile], being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree…” It is clear, “the good olive tree” in Christ Jesus consists of an integrated, racial body–a believing Jewish remnant “according to the election of grace (v.5),” and “wild” Gentiles who are also “…the elect of God, holy and beloved… (Colossians 3:12).” Romans 11: 28,29, therefore, doesn’t dismantle Galatians 3:28’s nullification of Jewish identity in becoming “heirs according to the promise.”

        I concur with your understanding of the branches of the olive tree as being Jewish believers (natural) and Gentile believers (wild). But I’m not making any case for a Jewish/Gentile distinction separating the body of Christ (the Church). My appeal to Romans 11:28-29 was to demonstrate that God still–even now–has an electing purpose for Israel (the enemies of the gospel) which is a parallel track to the election of the faithful (the friends of the gospel–the Church). The relation between Romans 11:28 and the olive tree is found in one of the motivations for loving the enemies of the gospel: “on account of the fathers” (the promises of the fathers being the olive tree which the branches grow out of).

        Harmon: 5. All Jews and Gentiles were unbelieving “enemies” of the Gospel before being “justified by His blood” (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21). The Dispensationalist dogma, that ‘all ethnic Jews (while viciously rejecting Jesus Christ) are God’s Beloved Enemy’ disintegrates under the Lord Jesus’ condemnation in Revelation 2:9; 3:9, “…and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9).” The “blasphemy” doesn’t refer to deceitful bloodline claims by non-Jews, but to “outward Jews” without Christ whose circumcision is not that “of the heart” and ”in the spirit (Romans 2:28,29).”

        You aren’t arguing with dispensational dogma here, but the Apostle Paul: “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. (Romans 11:28)” Also, you try to pit Jesus against Paul as if we have to choose to believe one or the other–when they are communicating compatible balancing truths. Jesus is criticizing unbelieving Jews who reject the faith while Paul is saying that believing Gentiles are to love the unbelieving Jews for the sake of the fathers and because they are still elect as a nation because, in the context, God clearly has unfinished business for them. Our challenge, in Biblical obedience, is to uphold both truths.

        Harmon: 6. Concerning the free-standing supremacy of “their physical descent,” Paul “makes clear” earlier in Romans (9:1-8), “…They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” So he writes to Galatian Gentiles, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise (4:28).” The Lord Jesus says this about physical, Abrahamic descent, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham… …You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father (John 8:39,44).”

        I don’t see how Romans 9:1-8 applies to the enemies of God. No dispensationalists argues that a single Jew will find heaven apart from being found among the Jewish and Gentile children of Abraham by faith.

        Harmon: 7. Finally, this is what Scripture ‘holds’ concerning “role distinctions within the plan of God”: “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life (1 John 5:11,12).” The former belong to the Body of Christ, the Church–the latter do not. This critical distinction applied at the time of its delivery, during the millennia that followed, and it apples to the world today. It is the only way to identify “the people of God.”

        You still haven’t dealt with the elect enemies of Romans 11–which cannot apply to believers (a point which I keep repeating). Appealing to various verses which show that there is unity within the Church based on faith in Christ isn’t the issue–I’ve never contested such. What I have said is: 1) Galatians 3:28 does not concern the erasure of roll distinctions as you would like it to (whether among the faithful–to which the verse speaks–or among the unfaithful which the verse does not have in view); 2) Romans 11:28 concerns a separate electing purpose of God (cf. Romans 9:4 concerning “the adoption”) which is not according to faith and concerns enemies of the gospel. It has been my experience that covenant folks don’t seem to know what to do with this because it is a big fly in the ointment that God has no separate purpose related to Israel aside from those Jews who might come to faith within the Church. But, when we integrate a straightforward understanding of the promises of the OT with Romans 11:28, it all fits.

        Anyway, I appreciate that this sort of interaction takes considerable time so don’t feel like you need to respond.

        Blessings – Tony

      3. One correction/clarification where I said:

        I don’t see how Romans 9:1-8 applies to the enemies of God. No dispensationalists argues that a single Jew will find heaven apart from being found among the Jewish and Gentile children of Abraham by faith.

        What I should have said was that I don’t see how Romans 9:1-8, where it concerns salvation by faith, applies to the enemies of God. I’m not contesting that unbelievers (of all nations) are presently enemies of God–as I myself was some 20 years ago. But saying over and over that physical unbelieving Jews are condemned to judgment and opposers of the gospel doesn’t undercut Romans 11:28 which concerns that very fact and still maintains they are elect, are to be beloved, and have a contribution to the purpose of God in history which is separate from the church.

    2. Bruce,

      You write:
      “I’d really like to see the ball, now in your court, returned with explicit, ‘Affinity Rule C5’ scriptures that plainly discern the interaction between God’s “material promises to Israel and ‘spiritual’ promises to the Church.” A position that stands immoveable in the ‘Israelianity’ extracted from Jeremiah 33, and then looks over at the New Testament through a fixed-focus, pre-Gospel lens, has to do this.”

      I shall do this soon, but it will have to be a separate post. I shall de-personalize it so that the RoA are more focused.

      You are writing on a thread entitled “Christ at the Center,” and, quite honestly, if there is a theological system more Christ centered than this one I don’t know what it is. My aim is to show how the Christ of the Bible is the “Fulcrum” of the Biblical Worldview as well as Biblical Theology. Any “bifurcation” or “trifurcation” of peoples arises from the oaths which God has obligated Himself to fulfill. I am showing how all this is done through Jesus.

      Your presupposition is that everything is fulfilled in the Church, and that is why you ignore the OT texts and focus on texts which say Christ has fulfilled the prophets. I think you know what the OT specifically promises, but you think the NT reinterprets the OT (thereby making God an equivocator). From this reductionistic base you infer all the covenant promises in the prophets were fulfilled at the first coming. This is clearly unsupportable because obviously Christ’s second advent is in the prophets and has not been fulfilled. Therefore, further fulfillment of the OT has to occur; which in turn shows that the verses you cite cannot be used to prove that all OT promises are fulfilled. This shows that one must know what is being spoken about in the context of NT fulfillment passages. You reference passages which say absolutely nothing about the land aspects of the Abrahamic covenant. I say that is because the national land promises are not in view in your passages. You assume that if the land promises were still in effect they would have been mentioned in the NT. From this you infer that any absence of such promises (i.e. silence) in your texts proves they are no longer in effect and fulfillment is in the Church (somehow). As I have said, that is a classic argument from silence: cite a passage which says nothing about the issue under debate and declare that the silence proves your point. All the while you will not engage passages which prove that the covenant God will do what He has said He will do in the eschaton.

      On this point, let me illustrate: You say, ” Paul, this is what I think you’re saying–that Acts 5:31;13:23 have been cited in order to infer/indicate, somehow, the presence in them of ”bifurcation.”’

      But that was not at all what I was saying. My point was simply to say that those verses don’t speak to the matter one way or another. You tried to make them do work they don’t do in producing them as proof-texts for your position. I hope you now see this, brother.

      I have addressed your issue several times by agreeing with you that the salvation which Christ brings is in line with OT promises. (Your texts will be examined by the RoA shortly). But I disagree with your deduction that this means all the promises which God entered in to by covenant are transmogrified and have been emptied of their original semantic contents. In order to be clear what these contents are I have many times urged you to read and deal with texts like Jer. 33 or Psa. 105 etc. You refuse on the grounds, I guess, that it doesn’t matter what God promised in the OT, it’s all superceded by [your interpretation of] the NT.

      In Islam the later parts of the Koran are held to be more authoritative than the earlier parts. This appears to be your view regarding the NT as over the OT, and explains to me your reluctance to even comment on any OT covenant passage. Of course, the earliest Christians didn’t have the NT; their Scriptures were our OT – which you carefully avoid dealing with. I have made specific cases for all of this, including demonstrating how OT covenant expectations are not altered in the NT, only the Church is “a new man” unknown in the OT. If that means a trifurcation of people groups in one general humanity in reflection of the Trinity why is that a problem? Unless, of course, God must have only one people because everything in the Bible is about the Church. If that is so you must prove THAT thesis with specific examples, not with verses which do not say anything but that the salvation spoken of by the prophets has come by the death and resurrection of Christ: something I have said and will say more about in this series (Part 6 addresses the matter of “Salvation”).

      BTW, I believe both Israel, the Church, and the Nations have both non-material (“spiritual”) and material blessings (which is why I placed the word in quotation marks in the sentence you have cited). In Scripture (e.g. Rom.8; 1 Cor. 15) the “spiritual” can be material.

      I will not convince you and you will not convince me, but I appreciate the interaction and your Christian example.

      May God bless you and yours,

      Your brother,

      Paul

  8. Hello Tom,

    As Bible-believing, non-Covenant folk, I will respond only to your “correction/clarification,” not because it comes anywhere near to dismantling my 7 points, but because it summarizes your mission a) to turn every unbelieving member of ethnic Israel into an exclusive “elect enemy,” and b) to fabricate a second, enduring, unbelieving, ethnically-defined people of God.

    When you complain about the idea that “physical unbelieving Jews are condemned to judgment” you’re complaining about Jesus’ words to Jews: “I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins (John 8:24).” 

    Paul wrote: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them (2 Corinth. 4:3,4).”

    “…for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost (1 Thess. 2:15,16).”

    But I have a challenge for you, based on the last sentence of your amendment:

    Please, produce scripture which states (or infers) that they (Jews) “have a contribution to the purpose of God in history which is separate from the church.”

    If you can, then your point is safe. If you cannot then you need to stop reading the Bible as a platform for Dispensationalist Ideology.

    May the Lord Jesus be Magnified,

    Harmon

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    “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 (1 Corinth. 12:13).”

    1. Hi Harmon,

      I’ll respond to two of your points.

      When you complain about the idea that “physical unbelieving Jews are condemned to judgment” you’re complaining about Jesus’ words to Jews: “I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins (John 8:24).”

      It seems you are putting words in my mouth. I don’t believe I complained that unbelieving Jews are condemned? Can you show where I did? What I did say was: No dispensationalists argues that a single Jew will find heaven apart from being found among the Jewish and Gentile children of Abraham by faith. So I clearly stated my position that unbelieving Jews will not be in heaven–they are condemned.

      But I have a challenge for you, based on the last sentence of your amendment: Please, produce scripture which states (or infers) that they (Jews) “have a contribution to the purpose of God in history which is separate from the church.” If you can, then your point is safe. If you cannot then you need to stop reading the Bible as a platform for Dispensationalist Ideology.

      To pick one, how about the following:

      “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! “See! Your house is left to you desolate; “for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'” (Matthew 23:37-39)

      Jesus is speaking to Jerusalem and sets a precondition upon His return. Jerusalem will see him no more until the city (standing for the Jews therein) says, ‘Bless is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’. Clearly, this precondition cannot be fulfilled by the Church–which daily sighs, along with John, “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20). It simply won’t do to fill Jerusalem with Christians from all nations and get them all to call out to Him. No, this passage concerns the spiritual restoration of the Jews and infers a separate focus from the purpose of the Church (which knows no geographical or racial bounds). In fact, from numerous other passages, a strong case can be made that the church won’t even be present at the time this occurs (but that is another view which I suspect you also reject).

      This also shows up another Achilles heel of covenant theology: a refusal to deal with the details found in various passages.

      God will be glorified! – Tony 🙂

  9. Hi Tony,

    My apologies, again, for the lateness of another long reply.

    Your answer to the question offers this scripture:

    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! “See! Your house is left to you desolate; “for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’” (Matthew 23:37-39)

    You wrote: “Jesus is speaking to Jerusalem and sets a precondition upon His return. Jerusalem will see him no more until the city (standing for the Jews therein) says, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’.”

    The effort to load up Matthew 23:37-39 with a separation of Jews from Christ’s blood-bought Church, overlooks, first of all, that the Gospels of Luke and John had witnessed an actualizing of this futurist “precondition.” It is a current event prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 (John 12:15, “Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt”):

    “And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest (Luke 19:37,38).”

    “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord (John 12:12,13).”


    The “pre-condition” doesn’t forecast a national spiritual restoration” of Jews in the distant future (Romans 11:5 observes, “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace”). Nor does it predict a Jewish event that “finishes” something left undone by God’s perfect work in Christ Jesus on Calvary (Hebrews 10:12, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God“).

    Using the “Jerusalem” denounced by Jesus to prove a Jewish future separated from the Church, is an inferential disaster. His stinging condemnation predicts the city’s oncoming desolation after a history of rejecting God’s gracious loving-kindness. Consequently, the temple veil before the Holy of Holies would be ripped open (not as a passing ‘gesture’ of rebuke, but as a supernatural act of finality), and the temple and the city, as He prophesied, would be utterly destroyed.

    Revelation 11, also, in the vision of God’s two witnesses, refers to the same Jerusalem: “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified (v. 8).”

    The apostle Paul reflects Revelation’s disdain for temporal Jerusalem when writing about the progeny of the bond-woman born after the flesh and the free-woman born by promise: “For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all (Galatians 4:25,26).

    The letter to the Hebrews declares that the fathers who died in faith “…desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” It concludes with an exhortation to Christian Jews, “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come (Hebrews 13:13,14).

    The “city to come,’” “which is above,” therefore, is not the Jewish ethnic construct espected by the Darby-Scofield-Lindsay cult. It is, rather, “that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God (Rev. 21:10),” and occupied by His saints, “they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev. 21:27; cf. Phil.: 4:3).”

    The Revelation passages extolling the ultimacy of this supernal, heavenly Jerusalem make no reference to Dispensationaliism’s, earthly, ethnocentric “Jerusalem.” His beloved Church, in fact, is a supreme presence consisting of Jew and Gentile saints gathered to Messiah Jesus. The intimacy is unique to the Church: ”Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25).”

    The claim that “Jews have a purpose of God in history separate from the Church,” is equivalent to saying God’s purpose for Jews in history is separate from the “Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12).“ The Body of Christ _is_ the Church–and there is no other separate “body” for an Israel detached from the Church to occupy; “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Romans 8:9).”

    Scripture denies, overwhelmingly, the separatist heresy that amputates “the Body of Christ” from His Israel. Ephesians 1:22,23 says (to the Dispensationalist ideology that puts words in your mouth): ”And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:22,23). Accordingly, the Hebrew letter states: “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:9,10).” This citation is from God’s prophetic Word to Israel, the “we” are Jews, and “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ” is for these Christian Jews (and Gentiles) in the Church. Here, there is no “separation,” whatsoever, between God’s purposes in Christ Jesus in history, for Jews and for His Church.

    One will have to reach deeply, once more, into the bottomless, Dispensationalist Emergency Repair Kit, to find another fuzzy proof-text for severing the Body of Christ from “the Israel of God.”

    Mat the Lord Jesus be Magnified,
    Harmon

    —————————————

    Acts 3: 18 “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.”

    1. Harmon said: Your answer to the question offers this scripture: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! “See! Your house is left to you desolate; “for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’” (Matthew 23:37-39) You wrote: “Jesus is speaking to Jerusalem and sets a precondition upon His return. Jerusalem will see him no more until the city (standing for the Jews therein) says, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’.” The effort to load up Matthew 23:37-39 with a separation of Jews from Christ’s blood-bought Church, overlooks, first of all, that the Gospels of Luke and John had witnessed an actualizing of this futurist “precondition.” It is a current event prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 (John 12:15, “Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt”): “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord (John 12:12,13).”

      Your attempt to find Jesus’ precondition as an “actualized” event recorded in John 12:13-14 faces some significant obstacles. Firstly, the presentation of Jesus as predicted in Zechariah 9:9 appears prior to the event recorded in the passage I’ve pointed to. Matthew 21:9 (which is parallel to Mark 11:9 and Luke 19:37) precedes Matthew 23:37, not just in Matthew’s order of presentation, but also chronologically as understood by several well-known harmonies of the gospels (e.g., Robert Thomas, A. T. Robertson). So you’d have to put Jesus and Jerusalem into a time-machine to make John 12:13-14 an actualization of the predictions of Jesus in Matthew 23:37-39. Secondly, an inspired interpreter no less than Matthew himself explicitly states that the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 relates to Jesus’ earlier presentation which precedes this passage (Mat. 21:4).

      Harmon said: The “pre-condition” doesn’t forecast a national spiritual restoration” of Jews in the distant future (Romans 11:5 observes, “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace”). Nor does it predict a Jewish event that “finishes” something left undone by God’s perfect work in Christ Jesus on Calvary (Hebrews 10:12, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God“).

      I found it surprising that you would appeal to Romans 11 in an attempt to disprove a national spiritual restoration of the Jews in the distant future when this is the very thing Romans 11 climaxes with: For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27) If this isn’t a predicted national spiritual restoration (ala Ezekiel 37) then I don’t know how Paul could have made it any clearer.

      Harmon said: Revelation 11, also, in the vision of God’s two witnesses, refers to the same Jerusalem: “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified (v. 8).”

      If you care to respond, I would be interested in hearing your interpretation of several aspects of Revelation 11: 1) when do you see the events described therein as being fulfilled? 2) what is your view concerning the identity of the two witnesses (who or what do they represent, when and how were they killed, and when are they caught up)? 3) and, if you believe the ministry of the witnesses is yet future, why in your view are they found ministering in earthly Jerusalem?

      The remainder of passages you offer are the standard ones which those who deny ongoing promises to national Israel put forth as if they erase all the other passages which indicate an ongoing purpose and activity of God in relation to Israel (many in the OT–which covenant folks generally disallow as evidence–as well as Mat. 19:28 ; Luke 21:24; Acts 1:6-7). It simply won’t do to pit God’s revelation against itself as if God’s revelation of an ultimate Jerusalem in parts of the NT erases everything that has gone before concerning an earthly Jerusalem–which the NT also explicitly mentions as being “actualized” prior to the heavenly one (Rev. 20:9).

      Harmon said: The claim that “Jews have a purpose of God in history separate from the Church,” is equivalent to saying God’s purpose for Jews in history is separate from the “Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12).“ The Body of Christ _is_ the Church–and there is no other separate “body” for an Israel detached from the Church to occupy; “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Romans 8:9).”

      The problem here is that I suspect your view of the Church predates the Day of Pentecost wherein the spiritual body of Christ first came into being–nobody ever having been baptized into Christ prior to that day.

      Harmon said: One will have to reach deeply, once more, into the bottomless, Dispensationalist Emergency Repair Kit, to find another fuzzy proof-text for severing the Body of Christ from “the Israel of God.”

      Speaking of “fuzzy proof-texts,” note that I’m purposely staying away from the OT because appealing to what God has already said prior to the gospels is generally disallowed by folks with your perspective. So I’ve not gone there. But there are some other interesting passages that also imply an ongoing Jewish-ness in relation to God’s plan that I’d like to hear your interpretation on. How do you understand Jesus’ promise in Mat. 19:28 (what are the twelve tribes, when does this find fulfillment)? When Jesus mentions the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) are they still ongoing and what brings them to an end? When the “Gentile time” ends, what if anything, does that imply about the time which follows? And were the apostles simply clueless in their ongoing expectation of a literal kingdom in relation to Israel (Acts 1:6-7)? Was Jesus such a poor teacher during his 40 days with them that they still clung to dispensational fantasies? 🙂

      [Paul, feel free to shut this exchange down if you feel it is inappropriate in relation to the prior subject of this page.]

      Blessings, Tony

      1. Does God break His promises just because they’re found in the OT?

        “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; Isa 46:9-10

        “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a NATION before Me forever.” Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the LORD. Jer 31:33-37

        “I am not doing this for your sake,” declares the Lord GOD, “let it be known to you. Eze 36:32

        See Ezek 36:22-36 and Amos 9:14-15.

  10. Hi Alf,

    Thanks for your observations upholding the validity of the OT passages in this question under discussion. This gets back to earlier challenges which Paul mentioned to Harmon concerning how to read the OT and whether it is fair to interpret the NT in ways which redefine the meaning if OT passages. I share your view that the meaning of the OT can stand on its own.

    The frustrating part, in my view, of interacting with those who oppose the distinctives we see is that they essentially will not allow a normative reading of the OT to stand– essentially stacking the deck in any discussion because they view the OT as either having been abrogated by the NT, or the previously established meaning if OT passages is superseded by spiritual interpretation which denies their original meaning.

    My point in mentioning the exclusively NT passages above is to show that the purposes of Israel in God’s plan are evident even in the NT without having to appeal to the may OT passages which also show this to be the case.

    The covenant guys often disallow our appeal to the OT and then go on to complain when we point to passages it he NT which carry on the consistent message of the OT, but are ‘less clear.’ Well, they are not as explicit simply because they shouldn’t have to be–given that they fit hand-in-glove with what the OT has already made plain. But this isn’t good enough for our critics who will settle at nothing less than forcing the NT to repeat what has already been said adequately in the OT.

    So their hermeneutic includes rampant spiritualization coupled with the belief that the coming of Jesus in the gospels implicitly invalidates much of that was previously said in the OT so that it must be reaffirmed or it gets jettisoned–as if God had to repeat himself simply because he gave additional revelation which fit with and extended that which came before.

    Israel means Israel except that it doesn’t. Land doesn’t mean land, but heaven. Tribes don’t mean tribes but the church. The Church is the body of Christ formed by the coming of the spirit to begin baptizing at Pentecost (John 7:38-39) except the church is in the OT. The restoration of Jacob has no national significance except that a few more Jews find themselves in the Church.

    Such is the elasticity and confusion of a hermeneutic which disallows the OT to speak beyond the cross.

    1. Tony I agree, and at a fundamental our arguments are the same whether you are Chuck Missler or Dr. R (Paul) the only exception is how we are phrasing our arguments and how nunanced our theological jargons are.

      “The frustrating part, in my view, of interacting with those who oppose the distinctives we see is that they essentially will not allow a normative reading of the OT to stand– essentially stacking the deck in any discussion because they view the OT as either having been abrogated by the NT, or the previously established meaning if OT passages is superseded by spiritual interpretation which denies their original meaning.”

      I will stand with the lady who wrote the website “Questioning Amillennialism” that I have quoted upteen-th times here who wrote in very laymen terms, who is asking rather sharply the amillennials/CTs like the two gentlemen here the assumptions behind their opposition to the distinctives we see. She is expressing in pretty blunt terms that she believes the emperor [on the part of CTs like harmon] has no clothes:

      ——————————

      http://www.geocities.ws/questioningamillennialism/index-1.htm

      “…I don’t think I am [using the Old Testament to interpret the New Testament]. I’m showing that the Old Testament and the New Testament agree. I guess I don’t understand the idea of not looking at the Old Testament in the same way as we look at the New Testament. Ultimately, there is only one author. He doesn’t change, and He says things like, “Will I say a thing and not bring it to pass?”

      When the Bereans searched the Scriptures, what were they reading? The Old Testament. The Bible doesn’t say they were a bunch of scholars. Chances are, they were common people like me. If what Paul had to say REALLY changed the meaning of those Scriptures, were they such an easy sell? Is it possible that some of these things required little explanation because they DIDN’T change the meaning of the Old Testament Scriptures?

      Think about it. How much discussion is given in the New Testament to the proper understanding of the law? Quite a lot – and that doesn’t contradict anything in the Old Testament. Yet, our entire understanding of Old Testament prophecy is supposed to change based on a verse here and there. One verse in Romans changes the entire meaning of Hosea. A mention in Acts changes the understanding of Amos. Truly – were those first century, regular people, such an easy sell? Or, is it possible that the New Testament writers were not changing the understanding but simply reminding people of what they already knew?”

      ——————————-

    2. I know, Tony. Sorry I butted in. Couldn’t contain myself.

      I look at the clear intent of some key OT verses (as above) and I marvel that some will still allegorize them. Dr Burge ignores them and tells us that we should think “Christianly” i.e. only use the NT. Why?

      I found Waltke’s contribution Kingdom Promises as Spiritual in Continuity & Discontinuity a frustrating read. He’s well aware of the OT promises and he cites passages without quoting or exegeting them for his readers. He simply appeals to John 21:22 in an-out-of-context attempt to get around the face-value intent of Acts 1:6-7.

      Michael Rydelnik has sparred Dr Burge once or twice. I think most of us are well aware of the talk he gave on supercessionism focusing on the NT. But just in case, here’s a link:

      http://theologicalstudies.org/blog/452-epicenter-conference-evaluates-replacement-theology

      1. No problem Alf – I figured that our from the content (and knowing you) :-). My reply to your comment was mainly because it triggered further thoughts that I thought it worth expressing.

        Merry CHRISTmas to you and yours!

  11. Tony wrote: “Such is the elasticity and confusion of a hermeneutic which disallows the OT to speak beyond the cross.” And the latter phrase exposes the nub of the issue being discussed.

    _Because_ it forces “the OT to speak beyond the cross,” Dispensationalist ideology swims in “elasticity and confusion.” The hermeneutic dispensed by Darby-Scofield(etc.) dogma obscures and supplants the Bible’s invincible proclamation–that the finished work of Christ Jesus on the Cross _is_ the absolute center of Bible meaning, and the turning point of all human history.

    Beyond Christ’s finished work on Calvary, therefore, the only important action in the purposes of God in history relates to the preaching of Him and “the cross,” (“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” – 1 Corinth. 2:2). Attaching anything more to His purpose, in Christ Jesus alone, is “…vain deceit, after the tradition of men…(Colossians 2:8,9).”

    The Lord Jesus’ reading of the Old Testament, thankfully, is free of the stench of “unfinished business” for Israel, of finicky, system-serving literalism, of promises left hanging in futurist air, of wrongly dividing “the purposes of Israel in God’s plan” between earthly and heavenly peoples, and of “distinctive” ideas ‘about’ Old Testament scripture that by-pass the teachings of Israel’s Savior (Acts 5:31) in the New Testament.

    I will leave this thread, then, citing how the Lord Jesus viewed the Old Testament as centered in Himself, and how He never ‘allows’ the Old Testament “to speak beyond the Cross,” beyond, that is, the final, perfect work of “the Lamb that was slain.”

    John 5: 39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

    Luke 24: 25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

    32. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
    44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things. 49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

    Revelation 5: 11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

    In Christ Jesus, alone,

    Harmon

    ——————————
    Colossians 2:8 — “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

    1. “The Lord Jesus’ reading of the Old Testament, thankfully, is free of the stench of “unfinished business” for Israel, of finicky, system-serving literalism, of promises left hanging in futurist air, of wrongly dividing “the purposes of Israel in God’s plan”

      Harmon, you do not leave on a high note brother!

      P

  12. Dr. H,

    Do you think it possible, if not likely, that when Christ returns and sets up His millennial reign, there will be another testament written and added to the Canon? That is, just like the OT mainly reveals God the Father, and the NT mainly reveals God the Son, this hypothetical third testament will focus on the Holy Spirit, and His intimate relationship to the gentile nations that you describe here in this article?

    to me it would make sense, seeing as how the OT describes Israel being intimately tied to and described as being married to God the Father, where the Son and the Holy Spirit are alluded to but not really revealed. Likewise, the NT focuses on the revelation of the Son and how the Church is a mystery revealed, that the Church is intimately tied to and described as being married to God the Son, but even so the Holy Spirit is still somewhat of a mystery to us, even though the NT does add revelation and illumination on the Holy Spirit’s character. It makes me wonder if the Mill kingdom will also have God unfolding to us the nature of the Holy Spirit in a similar fashion the OT does God the Father and the NT does God the Son.

      1. Paul,

        After publishing Alex’s comment, you made a decision to _not_ allow my recent reply… even though the scriptures presented in that reply had all placed “Christ At the Center.”

      2. Harmon,

        I deleted your comment because it was a mere stringing together of uninterpreted texts pasted together to supposedly refute my argument. This has been your pattern in the past. As has this:

        “”The Lord Jesus’ reading of the Old Testament, thankfully, is free of the stench of “unfinished business” for Israel, of finicky, system-serving literalism, of promises left hanging in futurist air, of wrongly dividing “the purposes of Israel in God’s plan”

        That was you some time back, and on the same installment!

        This is not the place for such tirades. If you have a blog, publish your views there. If not, don’t think this blog is yours to freely write whatever you want.

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