God's One Household

A charge commonly heard in popular preaching is “replacement theology.” It is usually hurled against anyone who claims a promise from the Hebrew Bible made originally to Israel now finds its fulfillment in the church. But the accusation misses the point. The New Testament teaches neither “replacement theology” nor the idea that God has two distinct covenants and peoples, each with a separate eternal destiny.

Instead, the Scriptures proclaim that all God’s promises find their substance and fulfillment in Jesus Christ. God has one covenant and one people, and His covenant with Abraham always envisioned the inclusion of the nations. Moreover, in Christ, the “middle wall of partition” between Jews and Gentiles has been dismantled so that God might “create one new man” from both Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus.

Church Iceland - Photo by Sigurdur Fjalar Jonsson on Unsplash
[Photo by Sigurdur Fjalar Jonsson on Unsplash]

No one is disadvantaged or more privileged before God based on his or her ethnicity, and no longer are Gentiles “
strangers,” but now, believing Gentiles are “fellow citizens with the saints” in the ONE “household of God.”

The Word of God finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. “IN HIM,” all His promises are “yea” and “amen.” The things that were “hidden” in the past are revealed in the life, words, death, resurrection, and exaltation of the Son, the one in whom all the shadows and types prefigured in the Hebrew Bible have become real. All His mysteries are laid bare in the Nazarene.

In the era that dawned with his death on Calvary, the nation of Israel has not been “replaced” by the New Covenant people of God. Instead, the original promise to Abraham to bless “all the nations” has come to fruition as Jews and Gentiles are united in Jesus to form one new people - (Romans 16:25, Galatians 2:28, 2 Corinthians 1:19-2:0).

In Matthew, Jesus is the promised Messiah who came to fulfill “all the Law and the Prophets,” and fulfillment in him is a key theme threaded throughout Matthew’s account. What was “written” beforehand is actualized in the man from Nazareth - (Matthew 1:22, 2:15, 2:17, 2:23, 4:17, 5:17-20, 8:17, etc.).

THE TRUE TEMPLE


In the gospel of John, Jesus is the true Tabernacle in whom the unveiled glory of God resides. “Grace instead of grace” arrived in the “word made flesh.” Though the Law came through Moses, but “grace and truth came to be in Jesus.” He is the true Temple, the place where the presence of Yahweh is found rather than any building “made with hands” - (John 1:14-18, 2:19-21).

The time has arrived for the true worshippers to worship God “in the Spirit and truth.” The old limitations of holy space and holy time no longer apply. With his arrival, all debates about where to locate the Temple are now pointless - (John 4:23-24).

Likewise, the ancient feasts of Israel find their significance in the Son of God. He is the true “living bread from heaven” that imparts life, not the manna given by Moses in the wilderness - (John 6:50-51, 7:37-39).

According to Acts, when the day of Pentecost was “fully filled up,” the Spirit was poured out on the saints who were gathered “with one accord” in Jerusalem. Peter proclaimed this to be the promised gift of the Spirit predicted by the prophet Joel. The “promise of the Father” was given to Jesus upon his exaltation, and he now bestows the gift of the Spirit on his disciples - (Acts 2:16-21, Joel 2:28-30).

BLESSING OF ABRAHAM


In his letter to the Galatians, Paul explains how Jesus came to “redeem us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse in our behalf.” This was so “the blessing of Abraham should come to the Gentiles.”

The covenant promises were to Abraham and to his “seed,” and that “seed” is none other than Jesus of Nazareth. The original covenant always envisioned the inclusion of the Gentiles, and that has been achieved in the death and resurrection of the Son of God - (Galatians 3:13).

The Law of Moses served as a “custodian” until the time of fulfillment when the “seed” came. But now, the time of “custodianship” has ceased. Jesus, the true “seed” of Abraham, is the “end of the Law for righteousness to all who believe” - (Galatians 3:19-25, Romans 10:4).

Thus, the Law was an INTERIM STAGE BETWEEN PROMISE AND FULFILLMENT. The Son came in the “fullness of time” to redeem those who were under the Law. Consequently, for those who are “in Christ,” no longer can there be “Jew or Greek, bond or free, male and female.”

The social and ethnic distinctions inherent in the Mosaic Law have no place in the New Covenant. All who have “put on Christ” are one in him, and all are now “Abraham’s children, and according to promise, heirs” - (Galatians 3:26-29, 4:4-7, Colossians 3:11).

To again observe “days, months, seasons and years” as required by the Torah amounts to submission to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits” that previously tyrannized us. If we do so, effectively, we exchange the Spirit and liberty for the death-dealing letter of the Law with its ever-present curse on all men who do not do all that it requires - (2 Corinthians 3:6-7, Galatians 3:10, 4:8-10, 5:1-3).

God has spoken with great finality “upon these last of days in His Son.” Previously, He spoke partially - Here a little, there a little. The earlier word was true but promissory, preparatory, and partial. But now, He has spoken fully in Jesus, the only one who “achieved the purification of sins” and now reigns over all things – (Hebrews 1:1).

The priesthood of the Son surpasses the Aaronic priesthood. His death achieved what no animal sacrifice could ever do. Jesus is the “guarantee of a better covenant, one legislated on better promises.”

If the first covenant had been “faultless,” there would have been no need for another. And this vastly superior New Covenant has rendered the old one obsolete, including its sacrifices and rituals - (Hebrews 8:4-10:18).

TYPES AND SHADOWS


The old system constituted “glimpses and shadows of the heavenly realities,” mere patterns of the real and now permanent originals. “Let no one, therefore, be disqualifying you in eating and in drinking, or in respect of a feast, new moon and Sabbaths, which were SHADOWS OF THE COMING THINGS, but the substance is of the Christ” - (Colossians 2:9-17, Hebrews 8:1-7, 9:9-10, 9:23-24).

In Jesus, both Jews and Gentiles receive their “introduction in one Spirit to the Father,” therefore, no longer are they “strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God.”

In Christ, God has dismantled the earlier “wall of partition” that separated Jews and Gentiles so that “the two he might create in himself into one new man” - (Ephesians 2:14-22).

The body of Christ is composed of believers in Jesus, both Jews and Gentiles, who are now “resident aliens” and “sojourners” in this world, a people without a national homeland that possess the incorruptible inheritance of salvation.

The Apostle Peter strung together several appellations that originally applied to Israel but now are inherited by the church:

  • But now, in Christ Jesus, you are the living stones being built up into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices well-pleasing to God, through Jesus Christ… You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a peculiar treasure,” a people that “at one time were a no-people but now are the people of God” - (1 Peter 2:4-10, Exodus 19:5-6).

Thus, the theme of fulfillment IN JESUS is found throughout the New Testament. In HIM, “all the promises of God are Yea and Amen!”

God defeated Sin, Satan, and Death on Calvary, not on the altar of the Temple in old Jerusalem. The “mystery of God” that was hidden in past ages has been revealed in His Son, and especially so in the proclamation of “Christ crucified” - (Romans 16:25, 1 Corinthians 2:1-9, 2 Corinthians 1:19-20).

And since the substance of God’s promises and the disclosure of His eternal “mysteries” are available in His Son, and freely so, it would be foolhardy in the extreme to return to the types and shadows of the old and incomplete revelation for knowledge and illumination about the Creator of All Things.


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