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The Church: New Creation, Not New Israel

The Church: New Creation, Not New Israel

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Published by Christopher Skinner

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Published by: Christopher Skinner on Oct 19, 2008
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10/27/2010

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The Church: New Creation, Not New Israel
Christopher Skinner 
Ihave lost count of the numerous times I have heard the expressions “New Israel”, “True Israel” or “Spiritual Israel”. These are phrases used by many Christians to refer to the church todayregardless of racial background. The phrase is not helpful to the cause of Jewish evangelism and itis not biblical. It is also a theological statement that implies that God has cancelled his future promises to the Jewish people and transferred them to the church. This is commonly known asreplacement theology and flies in the face of Romans 11:1-2:Isay then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of theseed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away His people whom Heforeknew.
1
The Apostle Paul makes it clear here that God has not rejected Israel, and he even qualifies what anIsraelite is. An Israelite has to be descended from one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Thisdemonstrates another reason why this topic is so important: God is faithful, and to teachreplacement theology is to undermine Gods faithfulness. It is an attack on his character.Furthermore, it undermines our own eternal security. If God has made promises to the nation Israeland has changed his mind, then how can we be sure that he is not one day going to do the samething to us as individuals? It is a great comfort to remember that Gods gifts and calling are withoutrepentance (Romans 11:29).Replacement theology has very deep roots in church history. Justin Martyr, a church father in thesecond century said thatThe true spiritual Israel, and descendants of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham...are wewho have been led to God through this crucified Christ
2
Justin Martyr believed that the church had replaced Israel in Gods plan. Irenaeus followed thisview and stated in relation to the Jewish people:They who boast themselves as being the house of Jacob and the people of Israel, aredisinherited from the grace of God.
3
This new theology, as we have seen, is contrary to New Testament teaching and is the product of anti-semitism. How strange and sad that the early Gentile Christians had fallen into such hatred.They had a Jewish saviour and had received spiritual blessings from the Jewish people and this howthey repaid them. The legacy of this error is still with us today and it has been the root cause of tension between Christian and Jewish communities.Those who propagate replacement theology use the NIV translation of Galatians 6:16 as a proof text:
1New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.Used by permission. Unless otherwise indicated (such as here), all scripture quotations are from the original KingJames Version.2Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter XI. Source:www.ccel.org(Christian Classics Ethereal Library)3Against Heresies, chapter 21. Source CCEL.The Israel and Church of GodAuthor: http://chris-biblethoughts.blogspot.com/Page 1 of 12
 
Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.
4
From this it is argued that the church is “The Israel of God”. The NIV here departs from the other translations in translating the Greek word kai as “even”. It actually means “and” as translated bythe other mainstream versions. The King James Version is an example:And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy,
and 
upontheIsrael of God.The “Israel of God” is a separate group from the “many as walk according to this rule”. The former group are Jewish believers as opposed to the Judaizers who insisted that the Galatians had to becircumcised. The latter were the Galatians themselves who did not need circumcision. It is saying“as many Galatian believers who walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, andupon true Jewish believers”.Many Christians have a fuzzy idea that Gods people in the Old Testament was the nation Israel andthat Gods people in the New Testament constitute the church. Confused thinking over this is whatleads to these errors. It is my intention in this article to provide exegetical, systematic and, mostimportantly, biblical thinking in relation to Israel and the Church.We have already seen that Israel is a nation composed of people descended from Abraham, Isaacand Jacob. This is simple. Anybody not descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has no claim to being an Israelite. The Church is not Israel, and has not replaced Israel in Gods purposes. Whatthen is the church? In contrast to replacement theology, dispensationalism maintains a distinction between Israel and the Church. Whilst dispensationalism and replacement theology are mutuallyexclusive, they are not the only positions. Many good individuals and organisations teach neither  position. The current author favours the dispensational distinction between Israel and the churchand this paper is expounding the Biblical basis for this distinction.The word translated church in the New Testament is the word “ekklesia” which means a “called-outassembly”. The word is used in Acts 19:32 in reference to an assembly of the people of Ephesus. A“church” or “ekklesia” is not necessarily related to religious practice but can be an assembly for any purpose. The same word is used in the Septuagint several times, often in reference to Israel but notalways. In Deuteronomy 9v10 Moses states:And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God;and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you inthe mount out of the midst of the fire
in the day of the assembly.
 The concept of an assembly also appears in Psalm 22:22:
I will declare thy name unto my brethren:in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
Psalm 26:5 refers not to Israel but to an“assembly of evildoers”. Israel is called “the church in the wilderness” in Acts 7:38. Clearly theconcept of an “ekklesia” is rooted in the Old Testament but a more complete doctrine of it is foundin the New Testament. As we shall see, the Church of God as found in the New Testament hasattributes which are not found in the Old Testament assembly and is therefore a new entity.
4Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 byInternational Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.The Israel and Church of GodAuthor: http://chris-biblethoughts.blogspot.com/Page 2 of 12
 
The first time the word “church” appears in the New Testament is in Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I sayalso unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and thegates of hell shall not prevail against it.In contrast to the other assemblies already in existence, Jesus the Messiah
is going 
to
build 
hisassembly. By implication, this assembly did not exist when the Lord spoke these words. Youcannot build something that already exists. The Church that exists today did not exist in OldTestament times. The New Testament informs us that this church is the body of Messiah and provides further proof that it was a new entity.He [Messiah] is the head of the body,
the church
:who is the beginning, the firstbornfrom the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18)The reception into Israel was by physical birth. The reception into Messiah's body is not by physical birth but by spiritual conversion and the baptism of the Holy Spirit:
byoneSpirit are weall baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles
(1 Cor 12:13)
.
Israel is composed of Jewish people only but the church is composed of Jews and Gentiles. Israel is composed of  believers and unbelievers but the church is composed of believers only.The Baptism of the Spirit was a future promise in the days of John the Baptist (Luke 3:16) and itwas fulfilled at Pentecost. When Gentiles first joined the church, Peter had to explain to his puzzledJewish audience that “the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us
atthe beginnin
”. Pentecost was thestart of something new. Neither Spirit baptism nor the body of Messiah existed in the OldTestament whereas Israel did. This is further evidence that Israel and the church are distinctentities.God The Father gave Christ to be the head of the church at his ascension. Just as a body cannotexist without its head, so the church could not have existed without the headship of Messiah. Thismeans that the church could not exist prior to Messiahs ascension. This is exactly what Paulimplies in Ephesians:[God The Father] raised him [The Lord Jesus Christ] from the dead, and set him at his ownright hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, anddominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is tocome: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things tothe church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:16-20)Whilst Messiah is eternal, his role as head of the church began at the ascension. Further evidencethat the church is new can be found in Ephesians 2:Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are calledUncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in theworld: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the
The Israel and Church of GodAuthor: http://chris-biblethoughts.blogspot.com/Page 3 of 12

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