Saturday, 17 December 2016

Blindness in Part

Two things I'm sure about, concerning Israelis:
1. Their Saviour has already come. Their salvation is already on offer. Many have already been saved. Anyone still can get saved, if he only turns from unbelief to faith in Jesus Christ.
2. God's plans for them can't involve worshiping literally in the way described in Moses' Law, and needn't involve modern Judaism.
That's not bad news - it's good news!

To which someone retorted:

Acts tells us that Israel rejected Christ and the plan for their kingdom was put aside until a later date. That is still to be fulfilled as God cannot go back in His promises. We the body of Christ are not a continuation of Israel- we are part of the '
mystery hidden in God since before the foundation of the world'. We are a new creation under a new covenant. Yes Jew and gentile but not the Israel of old. We are the wild olive branches that have been grafted in to the tree at the expense of the natural. One day we are told that all branches will be restored and what a celebration then. Still though as christs body, we are not a spiritual Israel.

That view makes it sound like if all ethnic Israel had accepted Christ, the Gentiles wouldn't have been given the chance to get saved. 

But God promised Abraham before Israel was even born, that all nations would be blessed in his seed, which was Christ! Saving the nations wasn't an afterthought - that was the plan - all nations - without distinction - at the same time - including Israel which was born only after the Promise.

It's always been God's plan to save all who believe. Natural Israel came only generations after the Promise. They were the custodians of that Promise. But the Promise itself, which predated Israel and the Law, would be to all who believe. 

Jews who believed were true Jews - the Israel of God within Israel. Not all ethnic Jews were true Jews. The Promise didn't fail - but the true Israelis experienced it, by faith. Then afterwards Gentiles believed, and experienced the same Promised salvation. 

The Gospel of grace to Gentiles is not something different to the Gospel of the Kingdom proclaimed first to Jews - there is "no other Gospel" - only the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Gospel of the grace of God.

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ isn't something separate, something unforeseen by the Prophets - it is the very thing the Prophets foretold. It was a mystery in Old Testament times, because they didn't fully understand at the time how what they were prophesying about would all come together. But the Gospel-scheme fulfilled and explains it.

Gentile believers have been brought near, and made to participate along with true Jews who believed, in the commonwealth of the Israel of God - together called the Church, which is identified so precisely with Messianic Prophetic themes as to be called the "body of Christ (Messiah)". 

Natural branches, which were broken off, were already being grafted back in again, in the first century AD. Paul himself was an example. 

Paul said any Jew who turned from unbelief to God could still be grafted in, and that God was using the Gentiles' experience of salvation to provoke that very response from Jews. 

Paul was addressing a first-century misconception that God had closed the opportunity for Jews to be saved. His answer was that Jews could still be saved, just as Gentiles were being saved - that was a first-century reality - and still is. It's the very scenario which precisely fulfilled Prophecy, Paul said. 

It was in that manner - with that scenario - that the Prophecies which had said that "all Israel will be saved" were seeing their outworking. God hadn't permanently closed the door on a Jew. 

Salvation was procured for all - and offered to all - but not literally all have received it - but the true Israel, true Jews received it - then Gentiles were grafted-in to the same experience - and any Jew could still experience it, by only turning from unbelief to faith in Christ (all of these details had been foretold by the Prophets, even though its meaning was mysterious to them) - and this scenario will continue "until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" - and then comes the end - and so (in that manner) the Old Testament Prophecies which had said that "all Israel will be saved" were seeing their outworking - the promise hadn't failed, nor had the door been closed on a Jew - (then all believers will enter in at the second coming, to the visible and eternally consummated Kingdom - the Kingdom-salvation scheme and message which has already been inaugurated by Messiah's first coming). Paul's explanation. 

Two problems with saying Israel's prophesied-salvation was instead delayed until the future:

1. If it's to be fulfilled in future, it implies a return to Levitical-style worship in future (because the Prophecies described Israel's salvation coming at a time when Israel would be carrying-out the Law). 

But returning to Levitical worship is logistically impossible, and not relevant this side of the cross. 

2. It would also place Jesus too early in history to be the Messiah, if Israel's salvation is still future. In which case our faith would be in vain. 

The revelation of the New Testament, mysterious in Old Testament times, is that Messiah would come twice. The first time to inaugurate the Kingdom-salvation of God - the second time to consummate it. And it would be received on the basis of faith - by Jews first, and also by Gentiles. That's the Gospel - of the Kingdom. "The Apostles' Doctrine" 1.0.1.

And it takes nothing away from modern Israelis - rather, it puts them in the best possible position, potentially. Because having fulfilled His promised scheme of salvation, God has never excluded Jews from it. 

Jews are on this side of promise and prophecy - not stuck back on the other side still waiting. 

Therefore at any time, any Jew can experience their promised salvation, just like Gentiles are experiencing it, and many Jews before him - by believing in Jesus, not by modern Judaism. 

That's not bad news - it's great news!

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