No Difference in Christ Jesus

Monday, January 23, 2012

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Galatians 6:15 KJV).

In time past, God dealt with mankind on the basis of circumcision (Jew) and uncircumcision (Gentile). God dealt almost exclusively with Israel whereas the Gentiles were “without Christ” and “without God” (Ephesians 2:11,12). Today, in our Dispensation of Grace, this is not true.

Ephesians 2:13-18 continues: But now in Christ Jesus ye [Gentiles] who sometimes were far off are made nigh [to God] by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain [two] one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off [Gentiles], and to them that were nigh [Jews]. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

“Both” in the above passage refers to Jews and Gentiles. In the Dispensation of Grace, God has placed believing Jews and Gentiles into one body, the “one new man,” the “new creature” of today’s Scripture—the Church the Body of Christ. This body of believers is separate from the nation Israel. In the Body of Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28; cf. Colossians 3:11).

Today, in our Dispensation of Grace, a Christian Jew is not more blessed than a Christian Gentile: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth [benefiteth] any thing, nor uncircumcision…” (Galatians 5:6; today’s Scripture). Technically, there are no Jews today. Romans 11:11,12 explains that Israel has temporarily lost her once-privileged position (today, God considers Jews Gentiles).

Unlike time past, in our dispensation, salvation in Christ Jesus is being freely offered to both Jew and Gentile: both can approach God through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork.

The Temporal Blindness of Israel

Monday, January 16, 2012

“And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a midst and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand” (Acts 13:11 KJV).

God formed Israel so He could utilize them in a kingdom to send His salvation to the Gentiles (non-Jews). When God sent Israel’s Messiah-King, Jesus, the Jews demanded His crucifixion. Even after Jesus was resurrected, they still rejected Him: Israel refused the apostles’ ministry (technically, the Holy Spirit’s ministry) in the early Acts period. Until all of Israel was saved, her kingdom could not be established, keeping the Gentiles from receiving salvation. But God had a plan to circumvent this rebellion!

Today’s Scripture is the Apostle Paul’s first recorded miracle—the physical blinding of Elymas. Why did Paul do this? According to verses 6-8, a lost Gentile, Sergius Paulus, sought to hear God’s Word from Paul, but Elymas, a Jewish sorcerer, attempted to prevent this Gentile from hearing God’s Word and trusting Christ.

Verses 9 and 10 read: “Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him [Elymas], and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”

Elymas symbolizes lost national Israel that prevents Gentiles from hearing God’s Word. Paul writes, “the Jews…[forbid] us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway…” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).

As Paul begins his apostolic journeys, God signifies, through the blinding of Elymas, that He will temporarily spiritually blind Israel and send salvation to the Gentiles through Paul’s ministry, without Israel (Romans 11:11-13). In our dispensation, Israel is “[blinded]…until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). When our dispensation ends (the rapture), God will return to Israel (Romans 11:26-29). Just as Elymas was blinded “for a season”—not eternally—Israel is temporarily blinded. God is not finished with Israel.

Adios to Being Atheos

Monday, October 17, 2011

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” (Ephesians 2:12 KJV).

The Greek word translated “without God” is “atheos,” from which we get “atheism.” God exists, so how can today’s Scripture teach that some individuals (the Gentiles of verse 11) were “without God?”

After the Great Flood of Noah’s day, Noah’s descendants did not scatter as God commanded (Genesis 9:1,7). In fact, they gathered for pagan worship at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-7)! God in righteous judgment scattered them, resulting in the world’s nations and languages (verses 8,9). In Genesis chapter 12, God selected one Syrian, Abram (Abraham), to create the nation Israel. Anyone not a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be a Gentile (non-Jew).

What happened to Gentiles after Genesis chapter 12? “God gave them up” (Romans 1:21-32). “[God] who in time past suffered [allowed] all nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16). “At the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent;” (Acts 17:30). The Gentiles were “without God” indeed.

God dealt almost exclusively with Israel in the Old Testament (Nineveh, Rahab, and Ruth were some Gentile exceptions). The covenants belonged to Israel’s patriarchs, not the Gentiles. “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” (Romans 15:8). Whenever a Gentile woman approached Jesus in His earthly ministry, He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24). He also said, “Salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22).

Thankfully, when we come to Paul’s ministry, God ministers to Gentiles apart from Israel. Today, Israel has temporarily lost her privileged position of Romans 9:4,5 (Romans 11:11,12). We Gentiles enjoy God’s salvation through the Gospel of Grace, which can save both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:16). God commissioned Paul as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), so Ephesians 2:13 says we Gentiles can bid “adios” (farewell) to being “atheos!” 😉