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Red-faced Evangelists - unrepentant

Red-faced Evangelicals - Unrepentant

 

God's grace was never dispensational!

 

God's grace was revealed to Adam and Eve, promised to Cain and Abel, presented to Abraham, confirmed by Christ and has been available to all mankind to our day.

 

Where did people ever get the idea that a "dispensation of Grace" was birthed at the cross? Yes, it was given final confirmation when it was ratified by the blood of Jesus, but it sustained mankind from the beginning of history. In this article we will look at how prophecy is an extension of God's grace to us.

 

Only the Sinai Covenant, given to the Jews, for the Jews, was limited to a specific phase of history, or dispensation. It ran parallel to the Covenant of Grace from Sinai to the cross. When Christ nailed it to the cross, the dispensation of law was over!
For while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17.

 

The grace of God, centered in Jesus as the promised Redeemer, was first revealed to Adam and Eve when they sinned. Genesis 3:15. Mankind has been sustained by God's grace ever since! Prophecy (insights into God's future plans) has provided foresight to God's people in every stage of earth's history. Prophecy is also part of God's grace.

 

What secrets does prophecy reveal regarding the 21st century and especially Israel?
Revelation 14: 6,7 is very specific regarding events transpiring in our day!
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth - to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come...

 

Question: If the Christian church has been preaching the true everlasting Gospel all along, why should God have to re-introduce it just before the final judgment as this prophecy indicates? The reason is that the church has been presenting only part of the Everlasting Gospel. The true Gospel consists of five main parts:

 

1. Christ died and rose again to redeem mankind and the lost dominion.
2. Christ's death and resurrection rendered the Levitical practices redundant.
3. The new Melchizedek priesthood was established by Christ. This replaced the Levitical system that distinguished between professional priests and laity.
4. The true Gospel centers in one's personal relationship with Christ rather than in rules.
5. Prophecy was given to serve as a "light shining in a dark place". 2 Peter 1:19.

 

In this article we will only touch on this fifth point. Let us use Israel as an example of how some modern theologians relate to end time prophecies. Let me emphasize that not all Evangelical Christians share the same views regarding the theory of "Dispensationalism". Most realize that God's grace was never limited to one dispensation, because mankind has always lived only by God's grace. It was the idea that the age of grace did not begin till Jesus died on the cross that led so many modern preachers onto a rabbit trial. The damage this erroneous view can do to Christian unity is nowhere more obvious than in the study of end-time prophecy. If "the proof of the pudding is in the eating", let us look at the results of this teaching.

 

After national Israel's political inception in 1948, religious speculators began searching for Bible texts they might use to explain that nation's emergence after nearly 2000 years in oblivion. One of their first predictions was that just as Israel emerged from the Sinai Desert after 40 years, so now, modern Israel would realize her promised glorious future 40 years after 1948. History is bound to repeat, they assumed. Books promoting this concept sold like hot cakes. When nothing happened, did the authors admit their error?

 

The fact that religious "experts" completely messed up on their predictions for Israel's 40th anniversary in 1988 proves that prophecy was not intended to be deciphered by human logic alone. If the professionals blow it so badly, how can average "lay people" hope to understand the mysteries of God's Word? When the "experts," trusting in their own human logic, completely struck out, that error was just dropped without apology as though it never happened. They had discovered that many people do not remember what is taught from one day to the next anyway, so why admit they missed the mark?

 

Next, Israel's 50th year Jubilee in 1998 was predicted to be the greatest prophetic fulfillment in modern history. In that year that nation was going to be liberated from all oppression and would enter into her golden age. Then, after Israel would receive God's blessings first, then, and only then would God's overflow come upon the Christian believers. This theory was preached to millions on TV and from pulpits all over America.

 

The theory that even today, God's blessings must always be funneled through the Jews, was promoted not only by writers who made millions with books promoting such errors, but by some of TV's greatest evangelists. Again, when nothing of significance happened in 1998, and Israel's problems continued to increase, the error was dropped with not a word of apology to a disappointed audience. Again, many listeners, not accustomed to studying for themselves, simply put it out of their minds and eagerly waited for the next installment.

 

This was followed by other speculative predictions such as the anticipated computer disaster that was to follow the dawning of the new millenium in January of the year 2000. Again, when the predicted catastrophe failed to take place no apology was made. Some of Evangelical's brightest stars ended up with jam on their faces. Did they repent? No! They just moved on, trusting that the gullible public would not remember from one fiasco to the next. They were right. Talk of aiding and abetting the professionals!

 

In view of the string of errors based on dispensational theology, many Evangelicals are beginning to question other doctrines promoted by those theologians. Chief among these is the so-called "Rapture theory" that is also based on the assumption that only part of the Sinai Covenant was terminated at the cross. This subject is presented in detail in our Book #1 "Abraham - Messenger to the 21st Century".

 

The concept that today God regards Jews (who reject Christ) as a class favored above His born again saints, was birthed when amateur "scholars" took passages such as Romans 1:16 and 2:9, which speak of "the Jew first, and then for the Gentiles" out of context. Contrary to the overwhelming evidence of Scripture, they interpret these texts to say that God's blessings will always flow to the Gentiles through the Jews. He will never bless the Gentile Christians before He first blesses the Jews.

 

What these texts really say is that historically God did reveal His law to the Jews first, but that in so doing, that put the greater responsibility on the Jews so that they are without excuse. While they were expected to be an example to the Gentiles, their lives denied their profession. For evidence of this please read Romans 1:21 and 2:1-11. In particular notice what verse 11 says. For God does not show favoritism.

 

Fortunately, not all evangelicals are caught up in this guesswork. These errors are the fruit of a concept known as dispensationalism that was developed over one hundred years ago and made popular by scholars such as Scofield. Dispensationalism was the child born out of the rejection (or misunderstanding) of plain statements in Scripture regarding the complete fulfillment of the Sinai Covenant at the cross. This led these people to search for Scriptural evidence that seemed to match current world events. Instead of letting the Bible lead, they used the Bible to support pre-conceived ideas.

 

One passage they picked on was Daniel 9:24-29 and decided that if they could separate week 70 from week 69, and project that 70th week (7 year period) to the end time, they might fit modern Israel into that time gap. So, without any Scriptural evidence, they decreed that God stopped His prophetic clock at the end of week 69, only to re-start it after the nation of Israel should be re-born. This is the crux of the matter! They completely overlooked the fact that prophecy is "of no private interpretation". 2Peter 1:20,21. Our Book #3, chapter 4 discusses this 490 year prophecy in detail.

 

Dispensationalists believe that God's promises to ancient Israel must be fulfilled before the end of this age, because "God's gifts and His call are irrevocable." Romans 11:29.
Their reasoning is that because ancient Israel did not live up to the covenant God made with them at Sinai, God must bring that nation up again, before the end of this age, and whether they are willing or not, this time they must become His representatives to the nations, or God would be proved to be a liar. God's promise to put them at the head of all nations must become reality, they contend, because He told them He would. This is the fundamental reasoning of these dispensationalists.

 

What part of "If" do they not understand?

 

Dispensationalists choose to ignore the truth that all God's promises to natural Israel, from the very beginning of their history at Sinai, were conditional on their faithfulness and obedience to His commands. Scripture is clear that natural (secular) Israel ran out of time at the end of the 490-year prophecy God gave to Daniel. See Daniel 9:24-27. Any speculation that natural Israel is to have another opportunity to represent God to the nations is the result of deductive reasoning, and runs contrary to clear statements of Scripture. Example: Inserting a span of nearly 2000 years between year 69 and year 70 in that prophecy with not one shred of Scriptural evidence. The problem? They started with an idea and then adapted Scripture to support that idea.

 

Exodus 19:5. Notice God's "if" in His dealing with Israel.
Even before the giving of the Law and the Sinai Covenant to Israel, God told them that the whole system, including prophecies pertaining to their future greatness, would be conditional on their obedience. Because they had rebelled, and rejected the unconditional covenant of faith given to Abraham, in favor of seeking to please God by their own works, they were placed under a temporary tutor, or schoolmaster. Deuteronomy 6:25, Galatians 3:19, 24 are two texts among many that confirm this.

 

In Deuteronomy 28:58 and 68, God prefaced all His promises to Israel with a big "IF".

 

In 1 Kings 9: 4-9 God made it clear to Solomon that His promises to him, and to the nation, were conditional on their keeping their end of the agreement made at Sinai. Again, notice the "if" with which God prefaced His promises to Solomon.

 

Psalm 132: 11,12 records King David's understanding of God's promises to natural Israel. God never placed Himself in a debtor role to rebellious human nature.

 

Jeremiah 18: 5-10 is probably God's clearest warning to natural Israel that His promises to them as a nation were conditional on their willingness to follow and obey Him. This illustration of the potter and the clay was spoken directly to Israel, and stated in the clearest terms, that His promises to establish them at the head of all nations would be realized only "IF" they would turn from their wicked ways and serve Him. Otherwise, He said, their rebellion would cancel and nullify all that He planned to do through them as a nation.

 

These promises, given under the Sinai Covenant, were is stark contrast to the unconditional promises given to Abraham. The covenant of faith is not based on our performance, but on the performance of Christ on our behalf! There were never any "ifs" connected to the covenant of faith that Christ confirmed by His death on the cross.

 

What about God's unconditional promises?

 

To whom were they given?
They were not given to Jacob's natural descendants, but to the spiritual offspring of Isaac. They were not given to Abraham's natural offspring, but to his spiritual children.

 

In John 8:31-41 Jesus made a clear distinction as to whom God considered His true Israel and who were merely impostors using that title due to the accident of birth. Paul also clearly distinguished between an Israelite of the flesh and one of the Spirit. He puts it clearly in Romans 9:6-8. The Message translation puts those verses in clear, plain English, so that none can mistake what they mean.
Don't suppose for a moment, though, that God's Word has malfunctioned in some way or other. The problem goes back a long way. From the outset, not all Israelites of the flesh were Israelites of the spirit. It wasn't Abraham's sperm that gave identity here, but God's promise. Remember how it was put: "Your family will be defined by Isaac"? That means that Israelite identity was never racially determined by sexual transmission, but it was God-determined by promise. (Emphasis supplied).

 

Let me point out that in his epistle to the Romans, Paul was addressing two distinct "Israels". One was the secular Israel and the other was the spiritual, or true "Israel". For a complete insight into this Scriptural principle read the chapter "The times of the Gentiles" in our Book #2 in the series Abraham - Messenger to the 21st Century.

 

The Fly in the Ointment.

 

Dispensationalists refuse to recognize that the New Testament is the lens through which all prophecy must be understood. If they trusted in revelation rather than on mere logic, they would not continue to repeat error after error. If we wish to understand Scripture, we must see prophecy through the eyes of its Author, Jesus. In Galatians 1:11,12 and Philippians 3:8 Paul recognized that the mysteries of the Gospel are beyond the grasp of the human intellect and can only be understood through revelation. As we have seen, prophecy is a case in point.

 

The foundation of the Christ-centered faith is anchored in the covenant of Righteousness by Faith that God the Father and God the Son had together given to Abraham. See Genesis 15: 17 and Hebrews 9:16,17. This is explored in detail in our Book #1, chapters 2 and 3. By contrast, the temporary nature of the Sinai Covenant, including all prophecy given under that covenant, is clearly defined in Hebrews 8:7, 13 and 10:9 among other clear statements of Scripture.

 

"But, I'm not equipped to understand God's Word," is the layman's lament. "As a mere layman, what can I do but follow those I pay to do the studying?"

 

Sounds a bit like a return to the Dark Ages, doesn't it?

 

That was the mentality of the masses when Christ was crucified.
That was the mentality of the masses during the Dark Ages.
That is the mentality of many today as they anticipate Christ's return.
The idea that if one is not a reputed ‘theologian,' he/she cannot understand the plain teaching of Scripture, has been drilled into the psyche of the average Christian to the point that many have again "sold their souls" to the professionals.

 

Having studied with theologians much of my life, I can say that the foundation of the Christ-centered faith is usually taken for granted and seldom discussed. We are too busy learning how to promote religion based on church doctrine, and how to use the latest methods to draw people into our orb. Instead of searching the Bible to discover truth, many theologians seem to search the Scriptures merely to support pre-conceived ideas. They use texts taken out of context like a kid uses Lego Toys. Out of the same texts one can create almost any doctrine one desires. Isn't that the reason why the theologians in Christ's day totally misunderstood the true intent of the Scriptures?

 

Because of this misapplication of Old Testament prophecies, dispensationalists have placed themselves behind the present move to help God establish His kingdom by force. They think the time is ripe to help God bring all the conditional Old Covenant promises He gave to Israel to fruition in our day. The present conflict in the Middle East is mainly fueled by this school of thought. Other "reasons" for this second Iraqi war are secondary. Religion is again using political and military forces to do her bidding, thus repeating Revelation 17:3-8.

 

As we discovered in our Book, Ancient nations Rise to Strike Again, chapter 7, the woman riding the beast (Revelation 17:3-8) is a picture of the world's religious powers using the political and military might of the nations to do their bidding. It is well documented, even is secular circles, that the present war in the Middle East is strongly supported by the religious establishment in the West. The most aggressive "hawks" are the dispenasationalists who claim to represent the "Prince of Peace". Where is the Dove? All this is happening because these people are groping for a reason to explain Israel's emergence in our day. Why is Israel here today? The real question is, Why did God resurrect not only Israel, but also all the other ancient nations at this time?

 

Revelation points to history's final climax when all nations will stand before the God of the universe and give account for all their wicked deeds. In Matthew 11:20-24 Jesus stated that even ancient Israel would have to face the judgment. That is the reason Israel, and Syria, and Iraq, and Iran, and Egypt etc. are here today! Why don't dispensationalists ever quote Luke 21:29 where Jesus predicted the budding not only of the fig tree (which they say refers to Israel), but also of "all the trees"? It's interesting how this kind of selective theology has mesmerized so much of the Christian world! For a Scriptural understanding of what Jesus referred to when He cursed the "fig tree" see our book # 2, Judeo-Christianity - Challenged by Paul, chapter 11.

 

Daniel chapter 2:34,35 tells us that all nations, including the head of gold (ancient Babylon) will be present when the stone cut out of the mountain by an unseen hand will crush all ancient, as well as present kingdoms, into powder "at the same time". (See the NIV). This indicates that all the nations that existed from the beginning of time, with all their accumulated deeds, will come up for review before God in the final judgment. This is the reason for Israel's existence today! See book #3, chapter 6.

 

Another rabbit trail that led to the dispensational theology is based on the theory that God's dealings with Israel temporarily ended after Jesus' ascension, and that He is now concerned only with the church. They further believe that after the so-called "rapture", when God is done dealing with the church, natural Israel will again be brought onto the stage to complete the work of evangelizing the world. Only people who do not understand the uninterrupted continuity of the Everlasting Covenant of grace can even consider such an unscriptural concept.

 

God's true people, from Genesis 3:15 to Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob to Moses formed one unbroken line representing God in the world. That unbroken line, who were the church of that day, continued on during the history of Israel through men like Caleb, Joshua, King David, Daniel, the prophets etc. Even in the dark days of King Ahab, God told Elijah He had seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee to Baal. They may have been out of sight, but they were there. God's grace has always been available from Adam, to Abraham, to the cross and will continue to the end of time! Who invented the idea that the "age of grace" did not exist before the cross? Please!

 

During national Israel's history, the continuous, unbroken, spiritual lineage that God had promised to Abraham was contained inside the framework of the secular nation known as Israel. When Jesus rejected secular Israel (Matthew 21:43. 23:37,38. Luke 19:41-44) and it was taken out of the way, the true Israel continued on in an unbroken line. The true (New Covenant) Israel passed through that gauntlet in the form of the "Called out ones", or ekklesia, intact! Secular Israel was terminated. The real, genuine Israel, moved on!

 

In our English Scriptures ekklesia is translated by the word "church". However, this "church" was a continuation of God's true "Israel," or body of believers, or "called out ones" that had its roots in the pre-Sinai era.

 

With the rejection of secular Israel, the true Israel (the church) was released from captivity inside a Christless nation. This was equivalent to Israel's earlier delivery from Egyptian slavery. The apostles who were Jews, together with believers from other nations, moved on as the "called out ones." The true, New Covenant Israel, was set free from the worldly systems and flowed on as an unbroken family into the post-cross era.

 

Spiritual Israel, who had been locked inside the secular structure of a nation that betrayed Christ, moved on as an unbroken family into what we now call the "Christian era." Those who had formed the spiritual heart of the nation were now liberated from their strictly Jewish roots. According to historical records, that is why the earliest Christian believers were known as "the called out ones". They were called out of Judaism.

 

This unified body that became known as Christians, was the same group that followed Christ before the cross. It was composed of Jews who, after their liberation from secular Israel, welcomed believers from all nations on par with themselves. This trans-racial body was the ekklesia that is referred to as the Church in the English language. This was the multi-national family that God promised to Abraham and Sarah. This was the true New Covenant Israel as distinct from secular Israel. Jesus, in John 8: 39, 42, 44, John the Baptist, in Matthew 3:7-10 and Paul in Romans 9: 6-9 confirmed the fact that secular and spiritual Israel were two distinct bodies. The "church" did not replace the true Israel! The true church and the New Covenant Israel always were one body!.

 

What happened at Pentecost?

 

Rather than serve as a light to other nations, Israel had withdrawn into an elite "closed club". Instead of reaching out to the nations, Israel's vision turned inward upon themselves. They forgot that God called Abraham to reach out to the nations of the whole world. They waited for others to come to them. They imploded upon themselves.

 

Before His ascension, Jesus told His followers that they would carry the good news of the Gospel to the entire world, but that they should wait until they were first equipped with power from heaven. In other words, they would need more than human resources to do the job God required. When Pentecost arrived, God equipped His people (the same ekklesia who came out of secular Israel) with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Now they could go out, not trusting in their own wisdom, or abilities, but in the power of the Holy Spirit to do God's bidding.

 

These men and women, who were endowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, were the same people who followed Christ before the crucifixion. They were now empowered to take the offensive and attack Satan on territory he claimed as his own. They were transformed from a defensive into a powerful and aggressive army. What we know as the "church" was a continuation, or extension, of the family of God that was born in Eden, presented to Abraham, entrusted to Moses and confirmed by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. The crimson thread was never broken!

 

The true Israel, those who had accepted the covenant of Righteousness by Faith through Jesus Christ, the Messiah, now came to be known as the church. Dispensationalists teach, however, that Israel was merely put "on hold" in Christ's day, as God stopped His prophetic clock, and that the church, as a brand new institution, took their place. They teach that after God is done with the church, He will restart the prophetic clock at the point where it was stopped 2000 years ago, and the Jews will then complete the job they failed to do earlier.* Scripture, please!

 

An interesting sideline to this theory is that the church is to be raptured just before the final challenge Satan throws against God's people. Since the Holy Spirit was given to enable the church to do its work, He (the Holy Spirit) will leave the earth with the raptured church. These teachers have not yet found a suitable answer to how the Jews will convert the whole world without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit! Even Jesus' disciples were cautioned not to try to do that work until they were empowered by the indwelling Spirit of God. God's Word, even in Old Testament times was,
"Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit," says the Lord. Zechariah 4:6.

 

The dispensational theory has captured the minds of many Evangelicals in our day. It sells well. The fact that the Bible teaches no such thing is swept under the rug. Random texts are taken out of context, and assembled like Lego toys by the dispensationalists, to support their doctrines. This is another evidence that if any theory is repeated often enough, by enough people, for long enough, it will take on a life of its own until it is accepted as truth by people who do not take the time to check out the facts for themselves. Please read Jesus' warning in Matthew 24:24, and remember: He is the Author and Finisher of our faith!

 

*The following quotation is from an article by Timothy Weber, published in Christianity Today, Oct. 5, 1998. The article is entitled How Evangelicals Became Israel's Best Friend.
Speaking of Israel and the church he wrote:

 

According to John Nelson Darby, the Englishman who shaped dispensationalism in the mid-1800s, biblical prophecies for one group do not apply to the other, and God deals with only one group at a time. Thus "rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15) means keeping the two peoples and programs completely separate. ...When Jews rejected Jesus, as the prophecy said they would, God unexpectedly postponed Jesus' return, started putting together a new people, the church, and unplugged the prophetic clock. Thus, for its entire history, the church has existed in a prophetic time warp, what dispensationalists call the "great parenthesis."

 

This kind of thinking would make the Word of God of no effect. It completely ignores the unifying theme of the Christ-centered faith which is summarized in Ephesians 2:14.

 

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two (Jews and Gentiles) one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace.

 

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