Wednesday, 19 July 2017

What's Your View of the Gospel?

Three views of the Gospel (there are others):


Made popular in America in the 19th century...
This view of the Gospel holds that the Gospel was hardly mentioned at all in OT prophecy; even Jesus' first coming was only mentioned occasionally in Prophecy - that the main theme of OT Prophecy is really Israel, and the fulfilment has mostly been postponed until the future. The Gospel is just something else that's going on in the meantime - and Prophecy never really said much about it.
A bit of a mention about Jesus was thrown in - but the big chunks of prophecy are really about Israel's future.
Sure, Gentiles are becoming God's 'people' through the Gospel, in a sense - but ethnic Israel remains the main theme of Prophecy and the real people of God.
Israel's future will involve another Temple, Levitical sacrifices sabbaths and feasts - even Gentiles will have to begin observing the Feasts too, in future.
Jews who haven't believed in Jesus will have ample opportunity to get saved after He returns. In fact, the whole nation will get saved then. Even today, good followers of Judaism probably are saved, even if they don't believe in Jesus.
God blinded most of the Jews to the Gospel, because if they'd accepted the Gospel, He wouldn't have saved the Gentiles; but one day, in future, He'll decide He's got enough Gentiles, and then finally He'll start fulfilling the main theme of Bible Prophecy, and save the whole nation of Israel, even if they hadn't believed in Jesus before His return. Then the whole world will have to start making annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem to keep the Feasts too, or be cursed.
Some take it a step further and say that since we'll all be keeping the Feasts after Jesus comes, we may as well start now. Even start observing the Sabbaths now too.
And the dietary rules.
In fact, the whole Torah.
Maybe that's why Jesus came anyway, they say - to make us all Torah-keepers. But not all Dispensationalists take their own view to that logical conclusion.

2. The Church has instead REPLACED Israel - or some put it this way: Israel always only meant something other than Israel.

Either the prophecies which mentioned Israel, once meant natural Israel, but because Israel failed to believe, the Church has now replaced Israel, so it's the Church not Israel which now receives the promises - in a spiritual way...
Or, maybe the prophecies which said Israel never really meant Israel in the first place - maybe it really meant something spiritual, and never really had anything to do with Israel in the first place - nor their land, their temple, or anything physical: it was all spiritual, or a figure of spiritual things.
Either way, in this view, all the prophecies about Israel are meant to be reinterpreted spiritually as applying to the Church directly, without there having ever been any fulfilment of any of the physical details of the prophecies in Israel itself.
Except for a few obvious physical details maybe, like Messiah being born in Bethlehem, etc. But the rest was really all about the Church, not about Israel - or at least that it's now become about the Church because of Israel's failure.
But here's a third proposal:

3. The Gospel is the very scheme which completed the very FULFILMENT of Israel's promises - on the ground in Israel, and for Israelis, first. Only now, after that fulfilment in Israel, are all nations also coming to share in it, which also was prophesied.

So in this view there was a natural timeline of prophetic fulfilment in history:
First, God faithfully restored Judah and Israel from captivity to their land; their Temple was rebuilt as prophesied; Levitical worship was reinstated as prophesied - while the Old Covenant still stood. This was already history by the time of the New Testament.
But the restoration story was not yet complete, because then in that historical setting, their Messiah came - also as prophesied. He really is their Messiah. He came to fulfil their promises!
Many Jews believed that Jesus was the prophesied Saviour of Israel and that He was fulfilling Prophecy for Israel - as such the first Church was all-Jewish. The Messianic community were all Jewish. They were "in Messiah"; the "body of Messiah". Experiencing exactly what the Law and Prophets foretold. This was the "good news".
But as awesome as that was, God's restoration plan was to extend to all mankind - to Gentiles - and it's even meant for the physical creation too, in some sense - it wasn't meant to be for Israel only. God had always planned for more.
So, Gentiles later came to belong. This was something Abraham and the prophets had foreseen. All nations blessed - in Messiah.
This later inclusion of Gentiles into the all-Jewish 'Church' didn't mean however that God had closed the door to a Jew. A Jew could still get saved. There was no revocation of their gift and calling: only their Old Covenant worship-style was made obsolete by the bringing-in of the actual fulfilment of their hoped-for salvation - something better, not worse.
Messiah's second coming, according to the Gospel, will complete the promised restoration - for all believers - even for the physical creation, in a sense - not only for Jews, not only for Jerusalem, it's not only spiritual. There shall be a resurrection, and a new earth and heavens! And all who believe in Messiah will share in it.
The promises which were about Israel and for Israel first, have a worldwide character and also a heavenly and eternal character - not just a temporary physical Israeli character - even though the Gospel-scheme was experienced in Israel by Jews first before all nations also did.
And all of this fulfils the original promise to Abraham, which was always for all nations, and was about the physical too, even about the new earth - not just about Israel under the Law, which only came later. Although the promise certainly about them too, and about them first - and for them still, if they believe, before it's too late.
So in the Gospel there's a natural historical timeline of prophetic fulfilment: from Abraham→Israel→Israeli believers (Church)→Gentile believers (Church)→physical creation (resurrection, new earth, new heaven, heavenly Jerusalem). Without replacing anything, and without delaying anything.
This view isn't antisemitic, rather it offers a hand up to fallen Jews who have not yet believed - helps them to their feet, to stand in the potential of their already-fulfilled promises, like Gentiles and other Jews before them have done. While together we all await the glorious second coming. "In Messiah". "The body of Messiah". "In one hope of His calling".
I would suggest that this view which I'm proposing, is more Apostolic.

And it's easy to imagine the many ways in which the differences matter.

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