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    The Meaning of History in the Christian Experience

    Click here for more information

    A Sense of History

    People in our modern world aren't much interested in history. They may learn a few historical facts in school, and maybe even some theories, but for most people history is dry and dusty, unconnected to the joys and sorrows of life. Yet history is at the centre of existence. History is the key to meaning, purpose and happiness.

    Now perhaps some people would be shocked by such a statement because it runs counter to the conventional attitude so compactly expressed by Henry Ford who said: "History is bunk" (Bunk is an American slang word meaning "rubbish" or "nonsense"). What this inventor of cars meant was that we should loose ourselves from outworn ways and let our thinking soar free beyond the hidebound and traditional. But because the present generation understands freedom not as "freedom to," but "freedom from", history is seen only as a shackle, not as a framework for action. People do not want freedom to change history, they want freedom from history. But those who are wise will listen to George Santayana who said: "whoever will not heed history is condemned to repeat it".

    A Lack of Vision

    Why have people such an aversion to history? No, perhaps that is the wrong question. Perhaps instead we should be asking: why are people so unconscious of history? The reason is that people feel rootless. Most countries teach their citizens patriotism such as in the United States. This patriotism is usually rooted in history. But nowadays few people take patriotism seriously. Mobility, mass media, individualism, and materialism have all contributed to the undermining of patriotism as people have redefined their social goals. In the 1960's there was a wave of rebellion against authority, which was followed by the egotistical "me" generation in the 1970's which focussed attention away from the past and future to the present. Indeed, one of the major criticisms of the West in its handling of the Soviet crisis is that it has not looked far enough ahead but has only considered the short-term gains in its policy towards the USSR and East Europe. Such short-term vision is a characteristic of egotism which lacks prophetic foresight.

    False Religion Has No Sense of History

    But materialism has not been the only cause of his anti-history mentality. False religions too have been a major contributor, for most of them have no sense of history at all. The Eastern religions in particular, with their belief in reincarnation, have what might be called a "yo-yo" view of history. They say that the individual soul, free on a heavenly plane except for its tie to God, comes down into a body here in this world of illusion, lives a life, then sheds its body and goes back up to heaven, only to descend again in another body, live, die, go back up, down, up, down....until it escapes this recurring wheel of life. In this schema social existence is illusiory, without significance; and history means nothing.

    And then we have the opposite view, which says that history means everything and believe it or not, one of the most powerful religions that maintains this position is atheistic communism. And what is why communism has been so attractive, because it roots itself in history, even though this is false messianism, a scriptural heresy. But only the Word of God and true religion give the right meaning to history. And that is why communism is collapsing today.

    Westerners are less history-oriented than ever. In America one used to finds slogans that could mobilise the nation such as "Manifest destiny!" and "Make the world safe for democracy!" No more. Today few Americans feel comfortable with the idea that the United States has a mission in the world based on the past to be poud of and a future to be improved, even though the recent Gulf War began to awaken some of these sentiments. Many people feel ashamed of their history. Many feel hopelessness, but few understand that it stems from purposelessness.

    A country where the opposite is true is the modern state of Israel, or Eretz-Yisrael, and for several interesting reasons. First, Judaism, which is a history-based religion and which sanctified time through its holidays (holy days), influences public life in countless ways. Second, secular Zionism too, since it is a variant of messianism, has been history-centred. Third, Israel's people have a stronger collective spirit and less individualism (in the bad sense) than America's or Western Europe's -- although in recent years that has, unfortunately, been changing. Last, the very existence of Israel defies nature and testifies to the working of supernatural power in history (and even atheists there would agree). This awareness of the miraculous in history is constantly being projected into the public arena. No other nation in the world can claim such history-centredness and at the same time claim the hand of God in its working in a unique way.

    Three Basic Questions

    Now am I justified in saying that history is the key to everything? Is that an exaggeration, or maybe even idolatrous? I don't think so. And I don't think so because I believe there are but three basic questions to life which everyone asks in his own way, some consciously, others acting them out in total unawareness. They are:

    • How can one be happy?
    • What should one do?
    • What does it all mean?

    The first is the central question of psychology. The second one (once one passes beyond vocational counselling) is the central question of ethics. And the third? The third, you might think, falls in the province of philosophy, but it doesn't. It is the central question of history. As a philosophical question the discussion goes on and on, endlessly and inconclusively, because the question remains abstract, not grounded in events. But history is nothing if not grounded in events -- indeed, a two-word definition of history might be "events interpreted". Thus it is in events, in history, that the meaning of life works itself out [1].

    The Meaning of Life

    The question of meaning is the critical one because it subsumes the others. If you know what life means, you will be able to discern what to do and how to be happy. The pursuit of happiness will fail as an ultimate goal because it will not lead to discovering the meaning of life. This was the mistake of the 1960's and 1970's, and perhaps the cardinal mistake of America and the other nations who imitated her.

    Foculsing on what to do will fail, because it analyses means without considering ends. Sooner or later one will spot this lacuna, as many communists have, and the whole structure of doings will collapse.

    In a way, Sartre and the other atheist existentialists who denied that there was a purpose built into the universe and insisted that each of us is responsible to create his own meaning for life, did us a service. By following the logic of their assumption that the God of the Bible does not exist, they exposed the hopelessness and pointlessness of life in such a universe. As Camus puts it so clearly in the first sentences of his book, The Myth of Sisyphus:

      There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy [2].

    Or, as I would put it, "the fundamental question of history". In other words, whether history is headed toward something worth heading toward is the one crucial question -- everything else is "bunk".

    The meaning of life! Whether the question burns or smolders, how do people answer it? Of those who reject God, some bite Sartre's bullet, attempting to shoulder the full burden of creating meaning in a meaningless universe. But I simply do not see how they can endure such a pointless, thankless, aimless, yet overwhelming task. If Sartre were right, wouldn't one be tempted to answer Camus's question in the irreversible negative (i.e commit suicide)? Others evade answering with ambition, with zeal, with good deeds, with supporting good causes, with self-gratification, with becoming cultured -- as long as the Hound of Heaven [3] will let them.

    The Real Purpose of it All

    For only the Word of God gives the true meaning of life and of history. "In the beginning God created man" for a purpose, namely, to glorify God, to become like Him, to fellowship with Him, and to multiply the love of Christ everywhere. He allowed moral evil. He chose, through one man, Abraham, to redeem a people, Israel; and through that people, Israel, to bring the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who would redeem all mankind, so that once again manking might glorify God and re-enter into His presence. God has as the goal of history the coming in fullness of the Kingdom of God, of Zion, which has already begun to be impressed upon humanity inwardly by Jesus Christ and His Body, the Church of the Holy Spirit (which are all true Christians everywhere), and by the New Covenant Church of God, which though a tiny, tiny piece of leaven, will eventually leaven the whole dough and establish twelve small nucleuses, or colonies, of Zion worldwide upon which the millennial Kingdom can be built, and to which all true Christians will eventually flow when all Israel will be saved and Christ will return and rule in glory. Thus the opening words of Genesis, "In the beginning" is tied through the time we live in now to the true and glorious end (Romans 11:11-32).

    Working With God to Do His Will

    Once we see that God has implanted history with purpose, we know what to do. We know to work toward the goal God has given, to be nothing less than co-workers with God -- not in some crazy, pretentious sense, but with humility. Once we accept that God has given us inspired Books [4] and a prophetic ministry in which goals are revealed, our goal becomes simply to forward His goals, to do His will. The issue then devolves to something else: how to know God's will. Much of His will is, of course, to be found in the Bible, and it is to these scriptures that the Christian must turn for direction. But God's revelation of Himself, and especially His will on a day to day basis, is very much one of personal revelation, to individual Christians properly rooted in Christ, and to prophets who minister to the whole Church [5].

    The "A" and the "Z" -- Apathy and Zeal

    Now a word about apathy, enthusiasm, zeal and motivation is required here. Apart from knowing God's purpose for history, apathy is the normal human condition, since apathy is the natural response when one finds oneself answering "No" to the questions, "Is there meaning to life? Does anything matter?"

    But when one sees that God has answered with His "Yes", the natural response becomes enthusiasm. The word comes from the Greek en ("in") and theos ("God"): being "in God" and having "God in" you. If God's answer is that something does matter, and if you are in God and God in you, as His Word promises will happen (See John 17:5,10,20-22,24, etc.), then you will find yourself -- literally -- enthused.

    Moreover, God in you will fill you with zeal to do His will. Scripture warns that zeal, like dynamite, is dangerous. Paul testified that while Israel had "zeal for God", it was "not based on correct understanding" (Romans 10:2). He also wrote: "To be zealous is good, provided always the cause is good" (Galatians 4:17-18).

    Finally, I believe that the strongest motivations to act arise from conflict situations; and the more important, the more fate-fraught, the conflict, the greater the motivation an individual can find to help resolve it (and the greater the joy when it is finally resolved). In an electric battery the greater the difference in charge between the terminals, the stronger the current.

    Likewise the conflict between fallen human nature and the high, high standards of the New Covenant is strongly charged sometimes with love and hate, positive and negative. Though many of our members (or ex-members) would like to pretend there is no hate, it most certainly does exist, especially when they are challenged to repent and reform and they refuse to do so. That is the way the true Gospel is, and it is the way Jesus taught, for if the Gospel is truly being lived, we as a people will either be loved or hated. There is no middle ground in the New Covenant. And when people hate, and allow bitterness to well up in their souls, they have either to repent and find the tremendous joy of inner healing and oneness with the Body, and with Christ, and with the Father -- or they must leave the Church and become more bitter and hateful. There have been many who would would rather avoid these conflicts and follow a middle-course but such would lead only to a lukewarm Church that God would spit out, as He has done with thousands of other churches. It follows that those who do follow the straitness of the Way are highly motivated, enthuisiastic and zealous, and these are amongst the keys by which a redeemed people can be identified, the greatest key being love.

    Our ministry is one of "life from death" (Romans 11:15) and we as a Church deal with both of these on a daily basis. The revelations have so clearly identified what our goal is and what we must do and how we must be, that life in the New Covenant is always on the sharp edge. We acknowledge no compromise Gospel, no "alternative lifestyles", no lukewarmness -- people are either for or against Christ, and they manifest that by their willingness to be obedient or not [6]. That is not to say that we expect everyone to be instantly perfect, because that is impossible. But we do expect people to be utterly honest and to acknowledge the Way and to strive to live it, through the grace of Christ, as best they can. To fail is not a sin in the Gospel, but to not try, or to be dishonest, is.

    Israel and the Church: What are They?

    There is a great deal of confusion both in the modern state of Israel as well as in the Christian churches as to the actual relationship between "Israel" and the "Church". Are they separate entities or one and the same?

    A Jew would probably maintain this position: "Yes, Jesus and his first disciples were Jews, but before long the movement he founded moved away from Judaism. Many Gentiles came in, added their own pagan ideas, and brought Christianity to where it is today." This would be the position of any Jew, whether Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, atheist or just plain "don't care".

    A typical traditional orthodox Christian would probabably think along similar lines: "Yes, Jesus was Jewish, but the Jews rejected Him. They have their religion, and I have mine. Let them worship God as they choose." This would be the position of a Protestant, Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox.

    All humanity is divided into two parts -- into Jews [7] and Gentiles (non-Jews). This is certainly the Old Testament position -- a clear division between those who were of the (Mosaic) Covenant, and those who were not. With the advent of the Christian religion it is possible to argue for the existence of four kinds of people: (1) Messianic Jews (Jews who believe in Christ), (2) Messianic Gentiles (Gentile Christians), (3) Non-Messianic Jews (Jews who don't believe in Christ), and (4) Non-Messianic Gentiles (the rest of the world). This was certainly the division in the early Christian Church.

    Today things are a little more complicated. The first Christians, who were Jews, continued to observe much of the Law of Moses (though not all) whereas the Gentile Christians did not. There were two separate Christian communities. Today there are two kinds of Jewish Christian: (1) Those Jews who convert to Jesus and are absorbed into the Christian churches with their Gentile cultural patterns, and (2) Those Jews who convert to Jesus (whom they call Yeshua or Yahshua, by His Hebrew name) but who retain their Jewish culture and call themselves "Messianic Jews".

    Christian Theologies

    Theologians have usually followed one of two approaches in dealing with the relationship between Israel and the Church [8]. The oldest and better known one is generally called Replacement theology or Covenant theology, although it is also appearing these days under other names. It says that the Church is "Spiritual Israel" or the "New Israel", having replaced "Old Israel" (the Jews) as God's people. More recently there has developed in Protestant quarters Dispensational theology, which, in its more extreme form, says that the Jewish people have promises only on earth, while the Church has promises in heaven. Which (if any) is true?

    New Olive Leaf Theology

    According to Judaism, God's people should throw themselves fully into what is called tikkun-ha'olam, which literally means, "fixing up the world", repairing it. And according to Jewish tradition such activity hastens the coming of the Messiah. This would seem to correspond to what Peter encourages believers in Jesus to do, namely, to hasten the coming of the Day of God (2 Peter 3:12). This "fixing up the world" is surely part of the call of New Covenant Christians to whom have been given three (new) Olive Leaf revelations (see NC&C 44) as part of the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). This approach I have called New Olive Leaf Theology or New Olive Tree Theology after Paul's allegory in Romans 11:16-26, addressed to Gentile Christians:

      Now if the challah [9] offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole loaf. And if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you -- a wild olive -- were grafted in among them and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree, then don't boast as if you were better than the branches! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, the root is supporting you. So you will say, 'Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.' True, but so what? They were broken off because of their lack of trust. However, you keep your place only because of your trust. So don't be arrogant; on the contrary, be terrified! For if God did not spare the natural branches, he certainly won't spare you!

      So take a good look at God's kindness and His severity: on the one hand, severity towards those who fell off; but on the other hand, God's kindness toward you -- provided you maintain yourself in that kindness. Otherwise, you too will be cut off! Moreover, the others, if they do not persist in their lack of trust, will be grafted in; because God is able to graft them back in. For if you were cut out of what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree!

      For, brothers, I want you to understand this truth which God formerly concealed but has now revealed, so that you won't imagine that you know more than you actually do. It is that stoniness, to a degree, had come upon Israel, until the Gentile world enters in its fullness; and that it is in this way that all Israel will be saved [10].

    This very important passage in Paul's letter to the Romans contains all the keys to the "Church/Israel" controversy. Let us look at these very carefully.

      (1) The Olive Tree is physical Israel, the nation with its people, the descendants of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham;
      (2) The Olive Tree is spiritual Israel, those who wrestle like Jacob and overcome [11] through Christ;
      (3) The root (Greek e'riza) physically refers to the Patriarchs, but especially to the father of the Patriarchs, Abraham (Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:7,29; Enoch 93:5 ("And his posterity shall become a plant of righteousness for evermore"));
      (4) The root spiritually refers to Christ.

    As always seems to be the case, people tend to get inner and outer confused and end up choosing one or the other, or neither. What we must also realise is that the inner and the outer are intimately connected.

    Let us now sum these keys up and obtain the correct picture. The promises made to the physical, blood descendants of Abraham were not cancelled by the New Covenant. These promises remain eternal. This tree of Israel, with its physical root the patriarch Abraham, and its spiritual root, the Saviour of mankind, Jesus Christ, still remains.

    All those Jews who have not received Christ are the branches removed from the Olive Tree, Paul says, and the Gentiles who do receive Him are the branches grafted on from the wild olive tree, "brought near in the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13, RSV). The Gentiles then become the sons and daughters of Abraham by adoption (Romans 8:15). In a sense Israel does become "new" because of the new grafts, as the tree is now different, but the root and trunk are still the same old one. So there is no question of the "old" tree being discarded and a "new" one being planted (Displacement theology).

    Therefore Israel is still the descendants of Abraham only the Gentiles have been grafted in and the non-believing Jews cut off. The promises made to the unbelieving Jews still hold, if they will believe. Then they will be grafted in again and, because they are Jews, receive the Gospel more "naturally" than born-again Gentiles. Therefore New Olive Tree Theology, as espoused by the New Covenant Church of God, maintains that there is only one tree but, like the human soul, has both a physical (outer) and spiritual (inner) aspect.

    Having said that Jewish and Gentile believers are "Israel" there is still a sense in which non-believing Jews are also "Israel", since the cut-off branches are still a part of the tree even if they do not have the living sap of the tree flowing through them. They are still the blood descendants of Abraham. For God has, and is, miraculously preserving them, so that instead of drying out, as detatched branches normally do, they are able to be grafted back in by faith. Thus unsaved Jews (cut-off natural branches), saved Jews (natural branches attached to the tree), and saved Gentiles (grafted-in wild branches) each have their own kind of on-going participation in the one Israel.

    Finally, a word about "Dispensational Theology" -- there isn't a single passage in Scripture about splitting the promises into earthly ones for the Jews and heavenly ones for the Church. However, God has made two kinds of promises. In regard to the promises which relate to individual salvation, there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:28), no distinction between them (Romans 10:12), no dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14-19). On the other hand, there remain promises to national Israel, the Jewish (Israelite) people, in which Gentile nations corporately have no share [12].

    What are we to make of Paul's perplexing words: "All Israel will be saved"? (Romans 11:26) Does that mean that all the Jews (Israelites) will receive Christ? In the Old Testament, the word kol ("all") in reference to a collective does not mean every single individual of which it is composed, but rather the main part, the essential part, the considerable majority. Therefore when "all Israel is saved", it will not be that every Jew accepts Jesus, but that the Jewish nation will have a believing majority and/or a believing establishment. To use Moses's metaphor, the believing Jews will be "the head and not the tail" (Deuteronomy 28:13).

    That is a very different picture than what obtains today with believing Jews a tiny minority in physical Israel. But one thing we can be certain of, in the future "all (the majority) of Israel will be saved". The time hasn't come but it surely will. Whether it comes before Jesus returns, when He returns, or after He returns is not clear, so we should be careful in using this as a sign of the times.

    Good and Bad Fruits

    I have up to now spoken of the "Church" as a single entity but as every true New Covenant Christian will acknowledge, the "Church" is, in fact, a wide spectrum of people, many of whom are not true believers at all. And if we are to believe Paul's teaching that the Church in the last days would be a remnant, then clearly the true Church is a small minority of those who call themselves "Christian".

    Everyone who comes to Christ in faith becomes a Branch of the Olive Tree, or Israel. He or she is then given opportunity to produce fruits. Three results are possible:

    • (1) The Branch produces good fruits and are therefore justified as true followers of Christ (Matthew 16:17-20, etc.),
    • (2) The Branch produces bad fruits and is cut down and burned, or
    • (3) The Branch is fruitless, and is also cut down and burned (Matthew 21:18-22, etc.).

    The imagery Jesus gives of discipleship, taken up later by Paul, merely reinforces what I said earlier about the strictness of the Gospel and the fact that our membership in Israel -- in Zion -- depends on our faithfulness which in turn leads to our being fruitful. If we lack faith and become children of disobedience, we are cut off from the tree and, if unrepentant at the last day, burned, which means we are totally cut off from Israel. That is an awful prospect.

    One last word about olive tree imagery because olive trees are used in two different ways in the scriptures. In the Bible a single olive tree is used to represent collective Israel. Doubtless the image could be used in different ways to, for example, describe individuals. And we must be careful not to read more into parables than was intended for them by the person using the imagery.

    The Problem of Culture

    One of the great conflicts between the emerging Messianic Jewish movement and "Gentile Christianity" is the cultural one because Messianic Jews (as opposed to "Jewish Christians" or "Hebrew Christians") wish to preserve their Judaism as well as their Christianity/Messianism.

    All Christians acknowledge that Christianity has its roots in Judaism but what is true Christian culture? Wherever Christianity has been planted it has absorbed, or been absorbed by, the culture in which it finds itself. And inasmuch as culture is not static, it follows that Christianity changes with culture. This is a fact of history. Whether we are religious or not, we express ouselves in the cultural medium in which we are born and live.

    Christianity has always faced dilemmas because of culture as the going secular (or religious) culture demands certain conformity of behaviour from its citizens. Therefore there is always a certain tension between a Christian's faith and the surrounding culture.

    What is Zionic culture? What kind of a Millennium can we expect to live in? Will it be a pluralistic culture like the present world, or a uniform one? New Covenant Christians would agree that many of the elements of a Millennial culture would exclude those in our secular societies, but as to exactly how to define that culture, they would probably be at a loss.

    Part of the problem is that the thousand year rule of Christ will be a lunar and not a solar or celestial Kingdom, though parts of the world will be living the Celestial Law. Those cities, and their surrounding countryside, that live the Celestial Law will have a uniform culture that will emerge out of the Twelve Firstborn Colonies of Zion created by the Holy Order (Chavurah Bekorot), to which members of the local colonies of the New Covenant Church of God are moving. These islands will represent the true Israelite or Zionic culture.

    This culture should not, however, be mistaken as being a variant of Judaism, which is a Mosaic or lunar (reflected light) culture, and is (I suspect) one of many that the Lord will allow/bless in the thousand year kingdom.

    One of the big choices facing members of the New Covenant Church is the culture they desire to live in (as all true Christians, in fact). For many, leaving the culture they live in for something else is too great a struggle and they find they cannot muster the faith needed for the change. And since the local colonies of the New Covenant Church is but gathering stations or assembly points for those desiring to enter the Church of the Firstborn and the Celestial way of life, such souls will eventually leave the Church for a fellowship on the lunar or terrestrial (earth-bound) level.

    Yes, it is true that there will be great variety of culture in the Millennium, expunged of all the worldly and pagan elements we find today, but it will not necessarily be celestial. The choice for those coming into the New Covenant must therefore be: do I wish to abide the celestial or the terrestrial law. For those who wish to abide the latter there is a place in the Church -- there has to be, because no one can enter the celestial world in a day, though this may not always be so. It does mean, though, that they exclude themselves from the Temple, which belongs to the Church of the Firstborn, for it is here that the celestial law obtains, and all its blessings.

    It should be remembered that the root of the Olive Tree is Abraham on the physical plane, and Christ on the spiritual, and that the two are inseparable in the fullness. Christians are commanded to "do the works of Abraham" (John 8:39) because that is the celestial work. They may limit the "sap" in their branches and opt for a lesser law of the Gospel but they cannot deny the higher and remain as a branch.

    Your Choice

    The New Covenant Church of God is a new and vital manifestation of the New Covenant of Israel, or "New Israel", for those who desire to live the whole celestial law. It is, relative to the whole tree, but a small cluster of branches amongst thousands of other branches that are naturally a part of, or grafted into, Christ and the patriarchs. But that cluster lies near the top of the tree where the sunlight is the brightest and where only the toughest leaves can endure. And at the top lies the Church of the Firstborn, the growing tip or merristem of the tree, where there is eternal freshness and multiplication in Christ. Your choice, if you are investigating this work or already a part of it, is where you want to be, and whether, having made that choice, you are willing to make the sacrifice and show forth the obedience that that requires.


    [1] For an earlier discussion on the importance of history see my article, "Must the Gospel Be Historical?" in Evening & Morning Star 9:7-10, April 1988.

    [2] Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus (New York: Vintage Books, 1959), p.3. Or Shakespeare's Hamlet: "To be, or not to be -- that is the question"

    [3] "The Hound of Heaven", a poem by Francis Thompson, presents Jesus as pursuing us in supplicating love through our various false refuges until we accept Him. Its first lines read:

      I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
      I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
      I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
      Of my own mind...

    [4] For the vast majority of true Christians this as yet remains only the Bible even though many are now accepting prophetic ministry. The New Covenant Church of God also accepts, in a secondary canonical sense, other inspired works, such as the Sub-Apostolic Epistles and the Olive Branch, a collection of late 20th century revelations received by the prophets of the New Covenant Church of God.

    [5] Of course, if these revelations -- whether prophetic messages, "inner leadings", dreams, words from friends, or heartfelt desires -- conflict with the Bible, then these have been proved wrong, for God has said: "I am the Lord, I do not change" (Malachi 3:6).

    [6] Jesus said: "If you love Me, you will obey My Commandments" (John 14:15, etc.)

    [7] Though a" Jew" is strictly speaking someone from the tribe of Judah, since the Assyrian captivity and the diaspora the word "Jew" has become synonymous with any Israelite. Though not stritcly accurate, I shall assume this synonymity here.

    [8] I shall here look at the "Church" as a single theoretical entity and ignore, for simplicity, the fact that it is divided into thousands of denominations. There are, incidentally, also many "denominations" of Messianic Jews.

    [9] Loaf, or cake, and as such a special loaf of white flour bread made for the Jewish Sabbath. In Romans 11:16 it refers to the share of the dough set aside for the cohanim (priests) in accordance with Numbers 15:20 (where the word appears)

    [10] Romans 11:16-26, Jewish New Testament by David H. Stern, 1989. P.O.Box 1313, Clarksville, Maryland 21029, USA.

    [11] See NC&C 87; also see my sermon entitled, A Call to the Busy in E&MS 30:10-11,21-24.

    [12] Messianic Jews would also maintain that Gentile believers have no share in it either which in my opinion is another way of errecting the "wall of partition" by creating two classes of Christian on the basis of blood. They would maintain, however, that there are promises made to certain Gentile nations (e.g. Isaiah 19:24-25 gives assurance that God will bless Egypt and Assyria along with Israel, so that Gentile believers who are a part of these nations will experience those blessings). No account is made for the Ten Tribes which are in the North Countries and their former colonies, Messsianic Judaism essentially being concerned only with Judah, Levi (and perhaps) Benjamin. Messianic Jews also allow for "Gentile Christians" becoming "Jewish" by going through the Jewish ordinances and presumably that means these "converted Gentiles" can partake of Israel. Seen logically it means that salvation in the fullest sense is more than by faith but by the works of the Mosaic Law which Paul has said are dead. We must therefore reject this position.

    This page was created on 21 May 1998
    Last updated on 21 May 1998

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