DISPENSATIONALISM, ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH

Jews rulePMT 2015-113 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Classic dispensationalism has virtually disappeared among academics. Replacing it today is “progressive dispensationalism.” But though the head has died, the body yet liveth. In the lives of untold millions of unthinking Christians. Therefore, it is important to rebut the system in order to make the case for postmillennialism. This is another installment in my critique of dispensational errors.

House and Ice (Dominion Theology, 29, cp. 166) are correct to point out that “Reconstructionists appropriate for the church (seen as the new Israel) the material blessings for obedience–and curses for disobedience–originally promised by God to defunct national Israel.” How they could possibly set this forth as a “Reconstructionist” distinctive is beyond us, however. The dispensational view is the one with the distinctive element!

Dispensationalist John Feinberg writes: “It is clear that holding a distinctive future for ethnic Israel is essential to Dispensationalism” (Feinberg, Continuity and Discontinuity, 81). Ryrie states that “this is probably the most basic theological test of whether or not a man is a dispensationalist, and it is undoubtedly the most practical and conclusive” (Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, 45). Indeed, this has been a dispensational distinctive since dispensationalism first arose 185 years ago!Nourishment


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I will quickly survey the Scripture evidence for the Church’s being the continuation — or better, the fruition — of Israel.

Christians individually considered and the Church as a collective body are called by distinctively Jewish names: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom. 2:28-29). Hence, it may be dogmatically and, dare we say, eternally proclaimed: “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2:6; Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:11; 3:25; 1 Pet. 1:17).

Christians are called “the circumcision”: “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3).

We are called “the children” and “the seed of Abraham”: “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham…. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:7, 29).

We are of the “Jerusalem which is above” and are called the “children of the promise” (Gal. 4:24-29). In fact, Christians compose “the Israel of God” for we are a “new creature” regarding which “circumcision availeth nothing” (Gal. 6:16).

James designates Christians as “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (Jms. 1:1). Peter calls the Christians to whom he writes, the “diaspora” (Gk., 1 Pet. 1:1). Paul constantly calls the Church the “Temple of God” which is being built in history as men are converted (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21).Olivet Discourse EZ


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Verse-by-verse analysis of Christ’s teaching on Jerusalem’s destruction in Matt 24. Show the great tribulation is past, having occurred in AD 70.

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Peter follows after Paul’s thinking, when he designates Christians as “stones” being built into a “spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:5-9). But he does more; he draws upon several Old Testament designations of Israel and applies them to the Church: “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation.” (1 Pet. 2:9-10; Exo. 19:5-6; Deut. 7:6). He, with Paul, also calls Christians “a peculiar people” (1 Pet. 2:10; Tit. 2:14), which is a common Old Testament designation for Israel (Deut. 14:2; 26:18; Psa. 135:4).

Clearly, the biblical record presents Christianity as the fruition of Israel, never to be undone.

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3 thoughts on “DISPENSATIONALISM, ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH

  1. John September 24, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    “James designates Christians as “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (Jms. 1:1). Peter calls the Christians to whom he writes, the “diaspora” (Gk., 1 Pet. 1:1). ”

    Most commentators that I have read (even covenental- John Calvin) say that James was referring to the Jews scattered abroad. What are your thoughts?

  2. Kenneth Gentry September 28, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Regarding 1 Pet 1:1: It is true that the Jews deemed themselves the “diaspora” (sown seed) spread throughout the Mediterranean world. However, I agree with Kistemaker and Davids that this term is probably applied figuratively to Christians (Jew and Gentile) who also have been scattered due to persecution.

    Note that in 1 Pet 2:9 he states: “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.” This seems to refer to Gentiles.

    1 Pet 4:3-4 also seems to speak of Gentiles: “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you.”

    See also 1 Pet 1:18: “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers.”

    As J. Ramsey Michaels states in his 1 Peter commentary (Word Biblical Commentary): “In the face of all this evidence, there is a near consensus that 2 Peter was in fact directed to a predominantly Gentile Christian audience” (p. xlvi).

  3. John September 28, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    Thank you! Wouldn’t it also contradict the Gentiles’ Spiritual descent from Abraham? If gentiles who are of faith are Abraham’s seed then they would be part of Spiritual Israel. So if James refers to the 12 tribes as exclusively fleshly Jews then he is writing to geopolitical Israel and not Spiritual/elect Israel. This would seem to lead to absurdity. Also, if James was not referring to believing gentiles as well, were the Gentiles that were part of the congregation that received James letter excluded?

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