From TableTalk this morning, reflecting on 1Pt 2:9-10:

The biblical view (which is sometimes mistakenly called “replacement theology”) does not say that the church “replaces” Israel. Rather, it affirms that true Israel always was, always is, and always will be comprise of those who trust in Christ alone for salvation…That the church is the Israel of God does not mean that every church member has authentic faith.

True Israel = true believers /= church 1By “/=” I mean “does not equal”. Not that A excludes B in “A /= B” but that A and B are not exactly the same thing. A may include B but there is not parity.. I guess this could also be expressed “Israel /= true Israel = true believers /= church”. But is this good and necessary consequence of what the Scriptures say? Sure, Rom 9:6-7 affirms the first part of that equation, but where do you get the second?

I suppose you could get it from John 6:60&66 where people called Jesus’ disciples grumble at his teaching and then stop following him. One could say that here were Jews, members of Israel who followed Jesus and then stopped following him. Thus they proved that they were not part of the true Israel. But that doesn’t answer it does it? Didn’t we already establish that Israel /= true Israel from Rom 9? Were these disciples part of the church? Had they been baptized? See, this is at a transitional time in redemptive history and is really not a good place to make one’s case for this.

Another place that might be appealed to would be the curses of the New Covenant, namely Heb 6:4-12 and Rom 11:17-24. In these passages, it is averred, show that those in the covenant can be excluded from the covenant for failing to believe. So it can be that there are those who are in the church but are not true believers. Indeed, Matt 18 on church discipline seems to affirm this. But are those people really considered as part of the church, or are they “not of us” (1Jn 2:19)? I think that if we want to admit that there are those in the church who are not true believers, then we have a problem with particular redemption. In Acts 20:28 Paul describes it as “the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” I suppose you could do some wiggling by saying that the church is different than the church of God and that the church of God is the true church which consists of all believers. Or you could say that Jesus is reconciling all things through himself (2Co 5:19) and so he did purchase believers and non-believers in the church but not in the same way. But are these things what Paul is saying in Acts 20? He doesn’t seem to be making those kinds of distinctions there.

Well, that little discourse didn’t do much to clear up the curses. Frankly, I’m a bit befuddled by the curses. They seem to be genuine threats but real believers cannot lose their salvation. That means that either a) the threats are theoretical and designed to keep real believers from losing their faith, or b) the people the threats describe are not real believers but they think they are and perhaps convince others that they are. Hebrews 6 sounds like these people have come close to believing, “tasting” the heavenly gift and the goodness, but not quite making it. Romans 11 makes a comparison between the natural branches who were cut off and the wild, ingrafted branches. Were those natural branches who were cut off true believers? If so, why were they cut off?

1 By “/=” I mean “does not equal”. Not that A excludes B in “A /= B” but that A and B are not exactly the same thing. A may include B but there is not parity.
Print This Post Print This Post

Be the first to leave a comment. Don’t be shy.

Join the Discussion

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>