Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Israel in the Church

The Church is the eschatological expansion, exaltation, and glorification of OT Israel. Her head is Christ qua Christ, the great Prophet, Priest, and King of *Israel*. He sits on the throne of his father David, which has been raised & exalted above all thrones & powers, even the angels. All the nations, not just Israel, have become the Son's inheritance.

But ethnic Israel has a favored place as the elect core of the Church. We wild olive branches owe our continued preservation to God's favor to the Israelites, his intention to preserve a remnant until Israel's fullness be brought in.

 Relevant here is Romans 15: 25-27:

"But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things."

 Here, we see that even in the Church of God Gentile Christians have an abiding obligation to care for the physical needs of Jewish Christians. This means that even in the one new man Jew and Gentile identity is maintained to a degree.
St. Paul gave a spiritual reason why we Gentile Christians are especially obligated to minister to the corporeal needs of Jewish Christians: because we partake in the spiritual things belonging to the Jews.

Therefore, in the Church there is a special place of preference for Jewish believers. The elect remnant has a special place within the body.
Just as man and woman remain man & woman when they become one flesh, so Jew and Gentile remain Jew & Gentile when they become one new man in Christ. They receive salvation equally but they don't receive the same position in the body.

It is not necessary for Gentiles to become Jews to be included in the new covenant, and ethnically Jewish Christians haven't lost their ancestral connection.
The remnant of Israel remains intact in the bosom of the Church.
At the present time, Gentile blessing depends on honoring Abraham's seed.  Those who bless Israel will be blessed. Those who curse it will be cursed.

There are varying degrees of this. We Gentiles who call on the name of the Lord Jesus will be blessed with salvation for ourselves, but if we fail to bless his natural brethren our lines of descent will not endure.
And this brings me to the subject of the Christian family. Gentile Christian families as units have been joined to Israel as honorary member houses of Israel. This is why the expectation that the intergenerational offspring of faithful Christian believers be Christian too is valid. And, it is a significant reason why our children should be baptized. Christian baptism accomplishes incorporation into Christ, and hence into His covenant people, the Israel of God.

God sovereignly saved and gave the Spirit to all, whether Jew or Gentile. Separate instructions for different sexes, races, and stations in life imply differentiation within the body. Equal membership, but not equal status or equal treatment, except to recognize each other's priceless dignity as Christ-bearers.

What needs to be overcome is an unbiblical notion of equality, proceeding from the amorphous spirituality of Gnosticism, i.e., spiritual vs. physical, heavenly vs. earthly, grace vs. nature, love vs. justice, etc. On the cross, where our Incarnate God died, all these oppositions were reconciled and the world, with all its beauty and diversity, was redeemed.

Comparative to the unsurpassable dignity of being in Christ, circumcision means nothing. But, it isn't nothing.

In the West, feminism, homosexuality, gender confusion, and all other varieties of social disorder proceeded from denying the validity of differentiation within the body of Christ. Today, the place of the Jew in the Church is denied, tomorrow the leadership of women will be accepted, later, open immorality. These things will be tolerated in any church that denies the Jew’s favored place, should it last long enough.

The pattern has replicated enough times to be certainly true.