Monday, April 23, 2018

The Abrahamic Covenant, by Dr. George B. Fletcher, Ch. 13

Chapter XIII
     What kind of a future was the apostle Paul concerned about for the people he wept over and prayed for (Rom. 9:1-3; 10:1)? Dr. C. D. Cole in his Fifteenth Lecture on Romans in The Gospel Witness says,
     "I cannot find in Paul's writings, in Romans or elsewhere,
     anything to indicate that he had any desire for their return
     to Palestine, or any wish that they might have political
     supremacy. Paul is concerned about the spiritual welfare
     of his people. He wants them to have the blessings of the
     New Covenant. He is disturbed because they are separated
     from Christ. He wants them to have the righteousness of
     God which is by faith in Jesus Christ. Am I not on safe and
     Scriptural grounds when I affirm that the New Covenant
     does not guarantee anybody, Jew or Gentile, a foot of land
     in Palestine, or any­where else? Nor does it guarantee any
     blessing of a material kind. Christ died to save His people
     from their sins, and the only home guar­anteed His people
     is a heavenly home."
     Of Romans 11:26 we ask: (1) WHO are they that are here designated "al1 Israel"? ( 2) HOW are they to "be saved"? (3) WHEN are they to be saved? A novel interpretation of this passage that is both radical and re­volutionary declared: (1) The all Israel" of Romans 11 :26 is the ENTIRE JEWISH NATION OF A FUTURE ERA; (2) They are to "be saved" otherwise than by the preaching of the gospel of Christ, and to a salvation different in kind £rom gospel salvation; (3) They are to be saved in a SUBSEQUENT DISPENSATION, that is to say, AFTER this "day of salvation" shall have ended.
     FIRST, as to WHO are "all Israel". This special portion Romans 9 to 11 begins with the statement that, "they are NOT ALL ISRAEL, which are OF Israel" (9:6), which plainly declares that the term "all Israel" does NOT embrace all who are by nature Israelites. This scripture alone refutes the idea that "all Israel" means all who are of Jewish descent. William Hendriksen in his pamphlet entitled, And So All Israel Shall Be Saved says:­
     "The term refers to the full number of elect Jews whom it
     pleases God to bring into the kingdom throughout the ages
     until the very day when also the pleroma of the Gentiles
     shall have been brought in. 'All Israel' is the remnant
     according to the election of grace' (11:5). Throughout
     Romans 9 to 11 Paul is speaking about THE REMNANT.
     That thought occurs again and again. This remnant is
     defined as being the true Israel (9:6); 'the children of
     promise' (9:8); 'a seed' (9:29); 'his people whom he fore-
     knew' (11:2); 'the seven thousand men' in Elijah's time
     (11:4); 'the remnant according to the election of grace'
     (which remnant exists also at this present time) (11:5);
     'the election' (11;7); 'those Jews that continue not in their
     unbelief' (11:23); 'all Israel' (ll:26a). It is significant, more-
     over that Paul quotes several REMNANT-PASSI\GES
     from the Old Testament. See Romans 9:27; 9:29; 11:4.
     This interpretation does justice to the word 'all' in 'all Israel'.
     The apostle does not say that Israel shall be saved on a very
     large scale; but he says that 'all' Israel shall be saved. This
     'all' clearly indicates the total number of elect Jews, without
     a single exception: ALL the elect. In Elijah's day there was
     a remnant. In Paul's day there was a remnant. In the years to
     come there would be a remnant. These remnants of all the
     ages, taken together, constitute 'all Israel'. So also 'the full-
     ness of the Gentiles' indicates the total number of Gentiles
     that are saved."
     SECOND, as to HOW "all Israel" is to be saved; the word "so" (meaning IN THE MANNER DESCRIBED) directs us to the verses immediately preceding. The manner of salvation described in those verses is set forth under the figure 0£ grafting into the stem of a "good olive tree" (Rom. 11: 23-25). Will THEY be saved in some manner different from that described in this passage, and to a salvation of a different sort? Most certainly not. Let us hear the inspired apostle, -- "And they ALSO, IF THEY ABIDE NOT STILL IN UNBELIEF, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again" (Rom. 11 :23). "To graft them in" plainly means their incorporation into the same good olive tree", and the condition is that they CONNTINUE NOT IN THEIR PRESENT STATE OF UNBELIEF, but come by individual faith to Christ. Does not this passage then, with its lively figure of the olive tree, set forth clearly and impressively that there is but ONE SALVATION £or all men, but one WAY of salvation for all, and one DAY of salvation for all?
     The apostle Paul by his reference to the "good olive tree" does not mean the nation of Israel, the whole frame of whose constitution, order and ordinances of worship, as a nation, was settled and established by a peculiar national covenant. He is evidently speaking of that good olive tree into which the believing Gentiles were grafted among the natural branches, the believing Jews, and with them partaking of its root and fatness (Rom. 11:17). The believing Gentiles were not grafted into the nation of Israel, and so that cannot be meant by the good olive tree. The apostle, by this figure, means the original promise made to Abraham, that in his seed all rations of the earth should be blessed. This seed is Christ, who is the root from which all the true branches derive fatness. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were separated unto God for the sake of Christ, that seed that was to spring of them, and bless all nations. For His sake also their posterity, the whole house of Israel, were separated unto God from all other people, and were favored with many distinguished privileges. The Jews were naturally related to Christ according to the flesh, and so are termed the natural branches. But when Christ came unto HIS OWN, and the greater part of them received Him not, their natural re­lation to Him was of no more avail. As they had no spiritual connection with Christ, they were broken off. It was only to those of them that received Him, believing on His Name, that He gave power to become the true sons of God (John 1:11, 12). These were grafted into Christ by faith, and were branches in Him, the True Vine (John 15:1-6). And it was among these believing Jews that Gentile converts, who were o:f the wild olive, were grafted in, being made "fellow-heirs, and o:f the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel" (Eph. 3:6), and thus partook with them of the root and fatness of the good olive tree. And so when the natural branches, which were broken off through unbelief, shall be grafted in again, IT WILL NOT BE INTO MOSES, BUT INTO CHRIST; not into the nation of Israel erected at Sinai, but into that which is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, namely, the Church· (Eph. 2:20). Dr. C. D. Cole writes:
     "The Jews that are saved will be saved under the New Covenant
     of grace and will be incorporated into the New Covenant people."
     THIRD, as to WHEN "al1 Israel shall be saved". Those who are grafted into the good olive tree are they, and only they, who believe the gospel of Christ; and from this it follows that when the era of the gospel is ended, there will be no olive tree salvation (and hence no salvation of any sort), for either Jew or Gentile. And other Scriptures make it plain beyond all question that those who "obey not the gospel of Christ" will be "punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2 Thess. 1:7-9). If this be so, and the Scripture de­clares it is so, we ask again, who will be left to enter any supposed future millennium AFTER the Second Coming of Christ? Thus the Jews will continue to exist as a separate people down to the very end of time, or to the Second Coming of Christ. Some of them have been constituted a political commonwealth among the nations in the nation of Israeli in Palestine , but they are not and never will be in NATIONAL covenant relationships to God as Israel of old formerly was. The reason why this people has not been cut off entirely is because of the remnant according to the election of grace among them that must be called out to faith· in Christ right down to the very end. Similarly, it might be asked, why does not God bring in the final judgment upon the world of the ungodly among the Gentile nations of the world? And the answer is, because He. has an election of grace among the peoples of earth, and until the last one is called out, whether from among Jews. or Gentiles, the final judgment of the world in righteousness cannot and will not take place (2 Peter 3:9,15,16). How­ever, it is especially to be noted that verse 26 does not say, "AND THEN" --that: is, AFTER the fullness of the Gentiles be come in "all Israel shall be saved", but "AND SO all Israel shall be saved." The little word "so" determines the meaning of the verse, meaning "in this way or manner"; that is, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We conclude by giving two excerpts from the writings of Dr. Bavinck, and Dr. L. Berkhof respectively. Dr. Bavinck, author of Gereformeerde Dogmatiek writes:
     "Accordingly, the term- ALL ISRAEL does not indicate
     the people of Israel which will be converted on a large
     scale in the end-time; neither does it refer to the church
     out of Jews and Gentiles; but it is the 'pleroma' (fullness)
     which, in .the course of centuries, is gathered out of Israel.
     It is Paul 's prediction that as a people Israel will continue
     to exist alongside of the Gentiles; that it will not be wiped
     out or disappear from the earth; and that it will remain to
     the end of the ages, will contribute its 'pleroma' to the
     kingdom of God just as will the Gentiles, and will retain its
     peculiar task and position witn respect to that kingdom."
     Dr. L. Berkhof.; author of Systematic Theology says:
     "ALL ISRAEL is to be understood as a designation not of the
     whole nation, but of the whole number of the elect out of the
     ancient covenant people."

1 comment: