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Crisis In 21st Century Christianity
Is The Church of Jesus Christ The Israel of God?
The Christian preachers and teachers who share certain ideas regarding "prophetic" end-time information -- similar to the ideas of Hal Lindsey -- have misunderstood the Old and New Testaments, so thoroughly, that it is impossible to accept any other conclusion than they have become the instigators of a radical departure from historic Christianity within the present world.
Hal Lindsey has stated to thousands of viewers on television, that "The church is NOT Israel."
His teaching shows a foundational misunderstanding regarding the New Covenant.
The Bible teaches that truth is so important, only few should be teachers (Truth Matters!).
There are real consequences to false teachings -- for those who teach them -- and for those who accept them.
James 3:1 "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment."
WHO DID GOD CHOOSE TO BE HIS CHILDREN?
Romans 9:7 --"..neither are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.
The Apostle Paul taught clearly that the church IS the "Israel of God."
Galatians 6:15 - "For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them [individually], and upon the Israel of God [in its entirety]"
Paul taught that the New Covenant covers God's chosen people - One Body of Believers.
Speaking to the non-Jewish converts in the church, he explained: "... for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets , Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,..." - Ephesians 2:18-20
The Bible teaches that the fellow-citizens being spoken about are the chosen of God:
Writing to the church in Colosse, Paul taught them, writing,
"... there has been a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;.." - Colossians 3:11-12
Hebrews 9:15 - " And for this reason He [Jesus] is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."
Hebrews 8:13 When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear."
The Old Covenant is Obsolete The Chosen People of God Are In The New Covenant
Jesus announced that He had instituted the New Covenant ~
Luke 22:20 - " And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood."
If any person is not UNDER the New Covenant, than he/she is OUTSIDE the Israel of God.
This is expressed in Galatians 3:23-24
"But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith."
The "we" being spoken of as being, "kept in custody" under the law is speaking of the Jews under the Old covenant who had been faithful to God (and with whom Paul, placed himself).. Israel had been expecting the New Covenant of faith by which they would be freed from the curse of the law (thus, making the Old Covenant obsolete).
Paul is writing about the Israel of God
This is what Jesus and the Apostles taught. There is no biblical evidence that God made any promises to those outside His new covenant.
To accept the false teachings that the Church is NOT the Israel of God, is to bring into question the words and promises of Jesus Christ, His Apostles and every Old Testament prophecy regarding the New Covenant as being fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
The evidence is that Mr. Lindsey, et al, so misunderstands the New Covenant that he (and those who follow him) have assumed non-biblical teachings regarding the modern State of Israel.
Incorrect Bible teachings obscure, then finally deny what is foundational to the truth regarding the New Covenant.
MODERN ISRAEL AND BIBLE PROPHECY
Re: Present-day Israel -- Before any pro-Israel reader rushes to judgment and emails a protest to this site-author -- to claim that the writer is against the Israel of today - it should be understood from the onset of this study that this author believes that the State of Israel has a legal right to exist (so don't bother to email regarding that issue).
This author accepts the right of modern Israel to exist because of the historical manner by which the geographic area was offered to those Jews who wished to form a Jewish State.
It was a political choice of the nations who won the war in that region of the world.
Historically, winners of wars decide what to do with land conquered by war (The United States have shown that often the best interests of a nation is for conquerers to give back the land to its people--yet, historically, nations most often kept the conquered land).
What is important to truth (and that is what this study is concerned about) is that what happened in 1948 and the Jewish State can not be substantiated as being a fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
To teach that it is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy is to distort Christianity until it is no longer recognizable through its foundational documents
In order to aid clarity as to what is being considered here in connection to present-day Israel (when examining the event within a Biblical framework) it is relevant to point out that the settlement in that region of the world by a segment of the world-wide Jewish community is recognized as a result of decisions made by the political powers (who controlled that region in 1948), and can not be substantiated to have been a result of fulfillment of biblical prophecy
It is appropriate to bring out - that it is the author's viewpoint, that it is morally right to respect the legal decision made by those earlier powers who placed into effect the present State of Israel.
This is so, regardless if the Zionist movement were correct or incorrect in its view of a right to ask the international world to support the establishment of a national Jewish homeland and a perceived right to obtain the specific geographic area it was able to obtain through political means.
In other words, the author understands that people will debate this specific issue, but it is not relevant to this examination.
The response to false teachings for Christians (living in any century) is to reexamine all teachings that have re-framed and/or distorts the truth of Who They Are.
In spite of what Hal Lindsey, et al, teaches regarding present-day Israel, what happened there in 1948, can not be a fulfillment of Bible prophecy (this will be biblically verified as we examine this issue further); it was a creation of the Zionists (see below where evidence is presented that reveals the Zionists understood this to be true).
Christians who accept the authority of scripture (even when it pinches their theological nerves) cannot support what is being taught by Lindsey, et al, regarding the modern State of Israel because there is no biblical substantiation for their assumptions (and there are many scriptural evidences against their ideas).
The New Covenant provided the national identity (nationally designated and spiritual in character within this world as we know it) of all believers in the Biblical God - including all past generations through all future generations - (regardless of being male or female, Greek or Jew) as being the “Israel of God."
Because Christ established the New Covenant with the Israel of God, as Paul teaches (defining ALL within it as being without race or gender), the word, "gentile" under the New Covenant denotes a pagan, as an unbeliever in Jesus Christ.
For a Christian to continue to teach the earlier primarily racial description under the Old Covenant of, "gentile," (defined as pagan when speaking of religion) when the biblical writer is speaking from within the New Covenant, is a misleading and dangerous-to-truth, idea.
After Christ established the New Covenant, the “gentile” in God’s mind is a pagan (meaning - an unbeliever in Christ who stands outside the Israel of God whether Jewish or non-Jewish).
This is what the New Testament documents teach---Galatians 3:28-29 -- "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise."
It is for this reason (that it is through the righteousness of faith by which we are all placed as ONE BODY into the New Covenant), Paul could state truthfully the sorrow he felt that his unbelieving "kinsmen according to the flesh," were lost without Christ.
Romans 9:2 - “…that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsman according to the flesh,…”
The New Testament teaches that the church of Jesus Christ is made up of (ALL those in the New Covenant) and He designated this body of believers, the Israel of God.
All faithful believers in God (past, present and future) are defined by God as being members of the Israel of God, and are the children of the promise:
Romans 9:6 - “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are NOT all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: ‘THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.’ That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. “
Could the Apostle Paul have been clearer? Any person (regardless of his/her genetics or where they live) who does not believe in Christ is NOT regarded as Abrahams's DESCENDANTS.
THEY (unbelievers in Christ) ARE NOT REGARDED AS DESCENDANTS!
On what biblical basis does Hal Lindsey, who states that he writes from within the Christian world-view, deny the words of Paul?
Mr. Lindsey's non-biblical claim that the Israel of today is a fulfillment of prophecy not only ignores the consistent Bible prophecies regarding Christianity, it denies historical reality that it was the Zionists who worked tirelessly to establish a national state of Israel
Something the Zionists acknowledge and history recognizes and no biblical prophecy points to.
Social, community and political activity is something that religious and secular Man involves himself in. God has not made Man a Robot who does nothing by his own endeavor
Zionist leaders have written (see quote below) that they had created a right to have a national identity (this idea of nationalism based on racial/religious lines has also been attempted by blacks in the United States in the 1920's and the Irish, etc).
Any person who accepts the right of each human being to freedom of speech should have no problem with this historical path by which the Zionist led many Jewish people toward the hope for a Jewish settlement.
In spite of the false teaching of Hal Lindsey et al (and others) regarding the events of 1948, the Zionists, themselves, did not see a homeland for the Jews as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
The reality is that neither under the Hebrew scriptures or through the Christian scriptures, can it be substantiated (supported) that the Israel of today fulfilled Bible prophecy in 1948.
Allowing the early Zionists to speak for themselves, see page 300 - The Jewish Question - by Alex Bein -Under the paragraph: “From Territorialism to Zionism”
-The author, Alex Bein, was awarded the "Israel Prize" in 1987 in recognition of his research and publications regarding Zionist historiography. He was a resident of Israel from 1933 and became the director of the Central Zionist Archives and Israel's first State Archivist.---
Page 300 - “As it had been for Pinsker, sovereignty over a territory suitable for founding a state was of decisive importance for Herzl. WHERE THIS TERRITORY WAS LOCATED INITIALLY SEEMED TO HIM A QUESTION OF SECONDARY IMPORTANCE, ONE THAT SHOULD BE DECIDED BY SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS AND POLITICAL CONDITION.” [The original was not written in capital letters]. He had primarily two countries in mind: Argentina, ‘a country with some of the greatest natural resources in the world [that] extends over a vast area, is sparsely populated, and has a temperate climate and Palestine.’…” - END OF QUOTES FROM BOOK
The reasons for eventually focusing primarily on Palestine territory as a “homeland for the Jews” and not Argentina, emerges within its own materials as becoming the most persuasive to pro-Zionists as the movement began having an impact on European powers and England.
The indifference to Palestine as the ONLY land area that the Zionist would accept at the beginning of the Zionist movement is compelling evidence that to the Zionist, the idea of a homeland for the Jews had nothing to do with prophetic literature.
The WHERE, was not focused primarily on Palestine!
The Zionist, Herzl [in 1897] is quoted in this summary of the First Zionist Congress - page 306 - The Jewish Question by Alex Bein Published 1990)
-“At first and for decades to come, this part [obtaining a national identity] remained a minority with the Jewish people; however, all movements for a national renascence have been led by minorities who regarded themselves as the vanguard and representatives of the entire people and deemed the expression of their will to be the expression of the national will. In this spirit, Herzl was able to register the result of the First Zionist Congress three days after its conclusion in these words, ‘Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a few words - which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly - it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish state. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. Perhaps in five years, and certainly in fifty, everyone will realize it’ ‘The foundation of a state,’ he continued by way of elucidation, ‘lies in the will of the people for a state, and even in the will of one sufficiently powerful individual (l’Etat c’ est moi - Louis XIV). Territory is only the material basis; the state, even when it possesses territory, is always abstract….At Basel, then, I created this abstraction which, as such, is invisible to the vast majority of people. And actually with infinitesimal means. I gradually worked the people into the mood for a state and made them feel that they were its national assembly.” (Complete Diaries, 3 September 1897)…” (Underlining added for emphasis) End of Quotes
There is no biblical basis by which a Christian (or any other writer about Bible history) appropriates to him/herself a right to define a political movement as a fulfillment of a biblical prophecy.
No person has a right to place words, God didn't speak, into His mouth.
It seems that Hal Lindsey, et al, somewhere missed the implications to the historical political scene of the First Century in connection to the New Covenant.
If the Jewish political scene would have been considered in depth, the importance of the political views within Rabbinical structures might have alerted the modern reframers of the promises of God, that it is impossible to meld together the Old and New Covenants.
To understand the First Century political climate is helpful in understanding one of the primary reasons many Jews of the First Century felt dismay and disbelief regarding the claims of Jesus.
The historical situation was that many Jews within the First Century had reacted to the prophetic scriptures much the same as is happening today (many were following the ideas of teachers who misinterpreted the scriptures).
A large number of Jews accepted the idea that the Kingdom of Israel was an earthly Kingdom to be established (David's powerful Kingdom restored) at the coming of the Messiah.
Jesus and His Apostles teach that the Messiah will restore the Kingdom on earth for a 1000 years, but not in this world..
The longing to be free and out from under the yoke of Rome was an emotion so strong (and often filled with anger), that it hardened many of the Jews against the claims of Jesus.
The early Christian documents show that many of the Jews did accept Jesus as the Messiah. They were the persons who brought God's New Contract of Mercy (the New Covenant) to those being saved.
The Apostle Paul writing by the Holy Spirit, wrote that the Body of Christ was a new creation and this new creation embraced the historical Identity for God’s people - the Israel of God:
Gal 6:14-16 - "But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God."
Paul taught that ALL those inthe Israel of God will be saved:
Romans 11:26 -- and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB. AND THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."-
The Apostles understood that it was Jesus who came to take away sins:
Hebrews 10:9-13 "...then He said, 'BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO THY WILL.' He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins FOR ALL TIME, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET."
Looking into the history of God dealing within our world or withholding judgment within the world, takes time. It can be easier to accept what another person has delved into and written within a summary report (articles, preaching, teaching, publishing).
Because this history is complex and covers many situations and events (religious and secular) in time, the farther time travels forward, the greater opportunity there will be to hear ideas in opposition to what has been written down in the Bible.
Is it ever acceptable to allow ourselves to be misled?
If the information God has provided within the Bible is not the only way to protect that which was first presented to us, on what other basis, will the intentions and acts of God be verified?
This reality was pointed out, long ago --
Jesus in writing through John, to the congregation at Ephesus, commended the people,
"Revelation 2:2 'I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;..."
It is sad to be forced to challenge the teachings of anyone who claims to write from within the Christian worldview. However, the things under examination regarding those who misunderstand the New Covenant so profoundly, carries such serious implications regarding the New Covenant and its promises, that silence is no longer an option.
There is not ONE scripture that supports Hal Lindsey's false teaching regarding a promise from God that an entire generation of people will be saved.
There is not ONE scripture that promises an entire generation of people will be saved BASED on their genetics!
Matthew 26:28, teaches that the New Covenant purchased eternal life for "ALL ISRAEL", "...for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins."
THE TERM, "ALL ISRAEL" (Romans 11:26) IS SPEAKING OF EVERY FAITHFUL FOLLOWER OF GOD THROUGH-OUT TIME! The blood of Jesus Christ atones (pays the legal price) for all sin, reaching back to cover the Old Testament faithful who had lived before the price was paid and reaching into the future of all who will accept it. Acts 2:38.
Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons [as children]."
On the basis of the Promise of God, the Apostle reminded his readers that the DELIVERER, Jesus has come and has taken away the sins of ALL Israel through the New Covenant and ALL ISRAEL will be saved.
Romans 11:26 "...and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, 'THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.'"
The Bible's teaching is consistent. The author of Romans, in speaking of what the Deliverer has accomplished through the New Covenant, - teaches that His blood of the New Covenant, covered the sins of the faithful of God in past generations of the Prophets, including the Jewish remnant faithful of the First Century and the adoption of the faithful everywhere they are willing to believe and obey Him.
Ephesians 1:5 -- "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,…” -
Thus, ALL ISRAEL will be saved!
IT PLEASED GOD TO PREDETERMINE US TO ADOPTION AS SONS!!
(How are men and women, boys and girls saved from an eternal life without Him? Yes, He determined beforehand that we could be adopted through obedient faith).
This study will continue taking a look at the question asked Jesus in connection to the Israel of God on earth -
"Acts 1:6 - "And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?"
Did Jesus answer that question 70 years after it was asked? And, If He did , why did He wait so long?