Tag Archives: dispensationalism

The Future of Israel

Recently I was asked a question on my other blog–The Christian View, by a friend of mine named Dave.  He writes:wailing wall

How will the end times impact not only the church, but the nation of Israel? Does God have a different plan for Israel than the church or is the plan the same but the road travelled to get there slightly different?

Great Question!

Let me say that this question (the question of Israel & the church) is THE question in terms of understanding the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan.  As you know the Dispensational view says that God has a separate plan for Israel.  The promise that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26) means that God will reclaim his old covenant promises during the millenium (without the church present.)   This is also called Pre-millenial.  In this view the plan for Israel and the church are entirely separate.

The Covenant view has at least two positions.  One Covenant view is that God is done with Israel as a specific nation and only individuals Jews are a part of the plan as they accept the gospel.   Covenant view #1 says that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26) means that since all who accept the gospel are the “Israel of God,” all who are part of the true Israel (the remnant) will believe.  This position is also generally amillenial.  In this view there is no specific future plan for Israel.

The other view in the Covenant camp is that God still has a plan for to include Israel as a nation–to wit that they will turn to God (generally) during salvation history/church age.  This is my view.  I believe that Romans 9-11 teaches that Israel will turn (generally–most, not all) to accept salvation through Jesus Christ as Messiah before his return.  The promise that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26) is a promise that will be fulfilled of the descendents of Jacob (similar set of people as dispensational position) but not during a removed time of history (future millenium).  The return of Israel will be “life from the dead” (Romans 11:15).   In this view, the relationship between Israel and the church continues in a synergistic effect.

Paul writes:

“Now if their trespass means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!”  Romans 11:12

In other words, if their tresspass (the nation of Israel’s rejection of the gospel) means riches for the Gentiles (the gospel goes to other nations), what will their full inclusion mean (Israel’s believing the gospel of the kingdom “their” = “their”).  In other words, if God can use Israel’s rebellion to bring grace to the world, just imagine what he will do with their belief.

Paul continues:

“I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry  14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.  15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:13-15)

The Apostle Paul clearly believes this will happen in history.  In fact, he believes it will happen (in part) through his ministry!   Act 20-28 is the saga of St. Paul’s attempt to bring healing unity to the church (Jew/Gentile) through the love offering of the Gentile church for the beleaguered Jewish  believers in Jerusalem.  (He delivers the gift, gets arrested, and eventually gets shipped off to Caesar—but that’s another story.)  That ministry continues today through the proclamation of the full gospel of the Kingdom.

This positive view of salvation history where Israel (on the whole) will accept their Messiah and his gospel before Christ’s return corresponds to the post-millenial position.

Here’s a chart of the basic positions if you want to keep the categories straight.

WHEN WILL THIS BE ACCOMPLISHED?

In church age – Before the return of Christ During a future millenium –

Christ on earth

God Redeems Israel, too – namely the descendents of Jacob Post-millenial

Dispensational Premillenial

God Redeems the church – those who have faith regardless of descent Amillenial

Historic  Premillenial

WHOM

DOES

GOD

REDEEM?

For more on this issue, please visit my audio downloads of “Introduction to Eschatology” at: www.cornerstoneforlife.com.  This is the page under “Ministries” – “Adult Education” – “Class Resources On Line” (just in case the link doesn’t go directly.  There are 12 weeks of lessons posted.  Week number 8 has the handout and lecture on Israel and the Church based on Romans 9-11.  Audio is a free download.

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The Cultural Captivity of the Church

Today in staff chapel we watched an excellent video about living out the whole gospel by reaching out to the poor and influencing the world.   The pastor on the video pointed out that 200 years ago his church in England led the way in developing hospitals, feeding the poor and many other works of following Jesus.

Unfortunately, the church lost it’s way and by the mid 20th C. it was only concerned with Sunday worship, bible lessons, and singing as it fullest (yet relatively pathetic) expression of Christianity—sound familiar?

So what happened?  Why did the church get so myopic?  It dawned on me that there was a whole constellation of factors that led to an anemic church.   Let me name the top four that come to mind.

Platonic Dualism

First, it was pointed out that we have a rather Greek way of looking at the world.  Following Plato, we have adopted a world view that names heaven/unseen as good, and eartly/visible as bad.  This is light years away from the Hebraic (even Biblical way of thinking), but it leads us to value “getting into heaven” and not value “the body, the world, etc.”  The God of scripture gives commandments
about loving God and not making idols and then also talks about mildew (Lev. 14)

The solution to this problem is to choose not to rend the seemless garment of all of God’s creation—earth and heaven.  To pray with Jesus, “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Revivalism

While the first great awakening (1730s – 40s) was clearly a sovereign work of God which resulted in great evangelism and moral change, the second great awakening (1800-1840s) was much more centered around using human means to save souls.  As a result the sawdust trails, and worrying benches led men to answer the question of their soul, it did not challenge them to work on their lives in the same way.  While it’s leaders probably meant well, they were subtly shifting the game toward saving the invisible heart and blind to the greater issues of the gospel of the kingdom.

The solution to this is to teach the whole counsel of God  (Acts 20:27).  Yes we preach that men might be saved, but salvation is much more holistic that getting your soul past the pearly gates.

Dispensationalism

On top of this, dispensationalism taught that the Kingdom of God had been postponed.  That we were in a season between God ruling Israel through theocracy (OT) and Jesus ruling the world (the millenium).  This period, the church age (aka, the age of grace) would be marked by the free gospel going to the gentiles, but ending in failure culturally as the gross majority of men (and women) would not receive it.  It is actually believed by some that the world has to get worse and worse before Jesus will return.  The to engage in culture is to polish brass on a sinking ship!

The solution to this error is to adopt an
optimistic eschatology.  Acknowledge that Jesus is king right now!  (Acts 2:36)  That he rules and reigns over all and is sovereignly causing his kingdom to march forward even in the midst the “already/not-yet.”

But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.   Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool,   because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.  Hebrews 10:12-14

Fundamentalist/Liberal Controversy

Lastly, the gospel was sadly bifurcated when the fundamentalist controversy raged.  There’s nothing like division to cause us to walk home with only part of the story.  Sadly while the fundamentalists (the predecessors to the evangelicals stressing the five fundamentals: virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, authority of scripture, etc) kept some key doctrines of the bible, they threw the baby out with the bathwater.  Over the past 100 years we watches as the conservative church has withdrawn, realized it was wrong to do so, over compensated by reengaging, and driving madly through culture like Jehu son of Nimshi.  Not long ago we saw the year of the Evangelical, and now it’s more of a curse word!  Yikes…

The solution here is to stand at the crossroads and consider where we’ve been and where we need to go as a church.

Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

It took about a hundred years to get this messed up.  It will take decades and decades to regain the ground that was lost.  But let’s look up and be hopeful.  Let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds…let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Heb 10:24-25).

What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. (2 Peter 3:11-12)

Let’s get back to work.  We’ve got kingdom business to be about.

Grace and peace,

<><

Tim

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