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Gospel Gazette Online
Vol.  10  No. 11 November 2008  Page 10                    powered by FreeFind

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Israel of God Today

By Raymond Elliott

Raymond ElliottIn Genesis 32:28, we read that Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. The fleshly descendants of this great man became known as the twelve tribes of Israel, the Israelites, the children of Israel and the nation of Israel. We can read in the book of Joshua when these offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob entered the land of Canaan, which was promised to Abraham by Jehovah God (Genesis 12:1-3, 7). This people constituted Gods’ chosen race through which eventually the promised Messiah would come. However, Israel fell out of God’s favor, except a remnant, and never again stood before the Lord with acceptance as a nation.

The question might be raised for our consideration, is Israel God’s people today? The answer is to be in the positive, but with some clarification. The Israel that is acceptable to God today is not fleshly, but spiritual. We learn in Galatians 3:29, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Those who are in Jesus Christ are the seed of Abraham. They become such by being immersed into Christ as taught in Galatians 3:26-27: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Even Nicodemus, a fleshly descendant of Abraham, was instructed to be born of water and the Spirit in order to be a citizen of the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5). Both Jew and Gentile have to obey Christ in order to be a part of spiritual Israel today.

Please observe the following passages that clearly teach that the Israel today that is pleasing to God is spiritual and not fleshly in nature. “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans2:28-29). “But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as the seed (Romans 9:1-8). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:15-16). “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 1:9-10).

Fleshly Israel, as a whole, rejected the deity of Jesus. In John 1:11-12, we find this to be the case: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” In Romans chapters nine through eleven, we read of the rejection of Israel because of unbelief and the acceptance of the Gentiles because of their belief in Jesus as being the Son of God. In short, everyone who is in Jesus Christ constitutes spiritual Israel today. It is the church of Christ, the family of God, the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ and Culture

By Robert Johnson

Robert JohnsonMost of you have probably heard about two surveys taken among public school teachers. One was taken 50 years or so ago, another just a few years ago. Many of the questions asked were the same. One question in particular was interesting, a reflection of the times in which we live. When asked, “What are your greatest concerns in the classroom,” the response 50 years ago was “students chewing gum, having their homework prepared,” and similar responses. The more recent response to that question brought “guns and violence, drugs, lack of discipline” and so on. What a change our culture has made in that span of time.

It reminds me of a book I read some time ago, dealing with some “major problems” in the church, according to the author’s perspective, during the late 1940’s and early ‘50’s. Not going into any detail, and not minimizing how important he thought they were to people at that time, like classroom teachers today, I would take those problems over some the church faces today. Culture again has made its presence known.

The culture of the world is always changing. What is acceptable today may not be tomorrow. Similarly, what may be pushing the limits of society ethically and morally today may seem bland by tomorrow’s standards. How do we cope with such rapid changes? How can we know right from wrong in the midst of an evolving culture?

We must anchor ourselves to Him who never changes, Who is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The Lord’s church will prevail (Matthew 16:18), and God’s eternal Word is forever the pattern and source of life for the church (1 Pet. 1:23). God’s Word reveals to us what must never change (the plan of salvation, the pattern of work, worship and leadership in the church, avoiding the works of the flesh, growing in the fruit of the spirit, among others). It also provides the foundation and principles to guide us through change, to make wise decisions, no matter the culture.

The Bible is as fresh and relevant today as when the inspired writers penned it. It applies to life and offers stability in any cultural circumstance or change we may face. Let us trust it, know it and live it. May we rejoice that, no matter how mild or wild the world around us is, we are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).

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