BOOKS: BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)
David S. Clark -The Message From Patmos: A Postmillennial Commentary on the Book of Revelation (1921) "This early twentieth-century Postmillennial commentary on the Book of Revelation, written by the father of theologian Gordon Clark, offers an easy-to-read alternative to the popular Pre-millennial/Dispensational views of the best-selling Scofield Reference Bible and a multitude of other dissertations on end-time prophecy that litter the shelves of Christian bookstores. "
Israel and Dispensationalism
By Greg Loren Durand
Many Christians believe that there are three separate bodies in the world today: the Church, Israel, and the Gentiles. The Bible, however, is clear that God has had only one people throughout redemptive history which He has adopted as His Church (as they are called in the New Testament), or as the people of God (as they are called in the Old Testament). The modern distinction that is made between the Christian Church and Israel is, by and large, the product of the Dispensational system which originated in the last century with J.N. Darby and C.I. Scofield. It is perpetuated today in the writings of Hal Lindsey, Dave Hunt, and in such evangelical movements as the Calvary Chapels. Dispensationalists center their interpretation of biblical prophecy around modern Israel and look forward to a time in the near future when the Church will be "raptured" out of the world and God will resume His historical dealings with the physical descendants of Abraham. Supposedly, with the advent of a world leader known as "Antichrist," the Jews will recognize Jesus as their Messiah and will repent of their rebellion and return to the worship of Yahweh. This, however, will not constitute their salvation in the Christian sense of the word, for the Jewish temple will then be rebuilt and the sacrificial system will be reinstated. At the end of a seven-year period commonly referred to as the "Great Tribulation," Jesus will return once again to earth and set up an earthly throne in Jerusalem. This is referred to as the "millennial reign" of Christ, for it is said to last one thousand years.
Many would be shocked to hear that such an elaborate eschatological system has no basis whatsoever in the Scriptures (properly interpreted), and instead rests upon very questionable, and at times even heretical, presuppositions regarding redemptive history. First of all, there is not one verse that can be cited from the Bible that teaches that Jesus will sit upon an earthly throne in Jerusalem. Also, the teaching that this reign will be limited to one thousand years is drawn from a strained interpretation of Revelation 20:1-10 (the only biblical passage that even mentions a millennium). However, the gravest error of the Dispensational system is its underlying premise that God deals with Christians and the nation of Israel in completely different ways, and that Jews may be reconciled to God apart from the Gospel of Christ. Paul specifically addressed this alleged distinction when he wrote that "both Jews and Greeks [Gentiles]... are all under sin" (Romans 3:9). He went on to say:
Furthermore, in Romans 8:5, Paul separated mankind into two classes of people-- those "who live according to the flesh" (the unregenerate) and those who "live according to the Spirit" (the regenerate). Members of the former group are said to be "enmity against God" (verse 7), and therefore "cannot please God" (verse 8). The latter are those whom God had chosen to save "before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4), and are pleasing to God solely on the basis of the fact that they have been reckoned by Him as being "in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). This same concept is seen in slightly different terms in Paul's distinction between those "in Adam" and those "in Christ" found in Romans 5:12-21 and I Corinthians 15:22.
The point being made here is that there is no third class of mankind which are not included in Christ by divine predestination and spiritual regeneration (Romans 8:29-30), and yet enjoy His favor on the basis of nationality and their observance of the Law (Galatians 3:11). Scripture is very clear that those who are called "sons of God" have not been "born of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man," but have been born "of God" (John 1:13). The message of Jesus to those Jews who were relying upon their lineage for right standing with God was, "You must be born again" (John 3:3). As Paul wrote:
In Galatians 3:26-29 and Romans 9:6-8, Paul denied that physical descent from Abraham and physical circumcision would save anyone, and stated that the true descendants of Abraham were those who "are Christ's" via spiritual regeneration. Consequently, we must reject the concept promoted by Dispensationalism that there are two separate people of God-- the Christian Church and the nation of Israel. The covenantal privilege that national Israel enjoyed as the chosen people of God was ended when the Jewish leaders "fill[ed] up... the measure of [their] fathers'guilt" (Matthew 23:32) by rejecting and crucifying their own Messiah. Jesus was very explicit in stating that the "house" of Israel was left "desolate" (Matthew 23:37-39), and that the Kingdom would be taken from the Jews as a people and given to another people (Matthew 8:10-12, 21:33-45, etc.).
The Reformed view is that God "divorced" national Israel and "married" spiritual Israel, which is the Church made up of people "from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). Henceforth, the Church, not the nation of Israel, is referred to as the "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16), the "house of God" (Hebrews 10:21), "a holy temple" (Ephesians 2:21), the "new Jerusalem" (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 21:2), and "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, [and] His own special people" (I Peter 2:9). Moreover, the Church is referred to by Scripture as "the bride, the Lamb's wife" (Revelation21:9), and "His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:23). Since there is no salvation apart from inclusion in Christ, Jews cannot and will not be saved unless they repent, believe the Gospel, and are baptized into the Church by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
[Permission Graciously Given by The Foundation for Biblical Studies]
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Date: 08 Sep 2005
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