Text: Romans 2:17-29
I. In these days of troubled times in the middle East, those who believe that physical Israel is central to God’s plans for the future have come to the forefront.
A. “Readers of the Bible know that the Book of Revelation tells of a time when Messiah himself will engage in unparalleled acts of warfare prior to establishing his rule from Jerusalem. (Revelation 19:21). The Bible also indicates Messiah will only return following the rebuilding of Israel's temple to the Almighty (Malachi 3:1, Ezekiel 43:2-5)” [Ryan Jones, JNW Headline News, 10/24/2005]
B. I recently received a letter scolding me. “How can you explain what is happening in Israel today? Is not Jerusalem, as God said it would be, become a cup of trembling, a burdensome stone? Replacement theologists such as yourself cannot possibly understand what is happening in Israel today except allegorically...which is how you must stretch the Scriptures to fit your Romanist view of God's chosen people (by whom He will show the fallen world His power and glory - the Jews). The defining line between true and false believers in these last days will be the stance that each takes on His people, Israel. ... Israel is blinded for a time, but Israel will never be relinquished by God (Romans 11), we Christians (thank God) are but grafted in to the vine, the Jews are the natural branches. Yes, they still require salvation by Jesus, but when the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in, God will concentrate His attention only on Israel. They will look upon Him whom they have pierced...He is their Messiah, although those who die without Christ are still lost. Please don't insult me with quotes of 'neither Jew nor Greek,' or of 'raising sons of Abraham from stones' - clearly, they rejected Jesus the first time, but they will not the second time. He will return to save Israel (real Israel, not your allegorical Israel) from annihilation, although only a third will survive - of these, all will receive Him and be saved. ... The promises to Israel are to Israel; the promises to the church are quite separate. God is very clear on this.”
C. He immediately sent a second letter apologizing for saying my teaching was unsound, but he still insists that “The promises to Israel are to Israel; the promises to the church are quite separate.”
D. A denominational televangelist, John Hagee, said that to suggest that the promises of God to Israel have carried over to the church is false doctrine. “We need to cease emphasizing respect for dead Jews like Abraham and David and honor living Israel today, the Jewish people.” To prove his point, he claimed Genesis 22:17 where God said, “multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven” referred to the heavenly Jerusalem or the church, but “as the sand which is on the seashore” meant the physical nation of Israel since sand and sea shores are on the earth. He went on to say that if he had a 28-foot chart and chalk, he could explain it all.
II. Is it that difficult to understand?
A. There is no salvation outside of Christ
1. Only through Jesus can men be saved - Acts 4:12
2. Jesus is the way, the only way - John 14:6
B. There is no special favor toward physical Israel
1. Lineage means nothing to God - Luke 3:8
2. What is important is the heart, not physical things such as circumcision - Romans 2:28-29
3. The Jews have been just as guilty of sin as the Gentiles - Romans 3:9-10
4. The same gospel saves both Jew and Greek - Romans 1:16
C. Jews and Gentiles have been brought into one body
1. Reconciled into one body - Ephesians 2:11-18
2. The past mystery has been revealed - Ephesians 3:6
3. There is only one body (Ephesians 4:4), and that body is the church - Ephesians 1:22-23
D. Equality in the body
1. All were condemned under sin, so that belief could become the standard - Galatians 3:22
2. The law, which created the nation of Israel, was only until the Seed should come - Galatians 3:19. That seed is Christ - Galatians 3:16
3. The law preserved people until Christ came and then the law ended - Galatians 3:24-25
4. Now, in Christ, we are all one - Galatians 3:25-28
5. Thus, by belief – not physical lineage – we become descendants of Abraham - Galatians 3:29
6. Hence, in writing to the churches of Galatia (Galatians 1:2-3), Paul pronounces blessings upon the Israel of God - Galatians 6:15-16
III. The parable of the vineyard - Matthew 21:33-46
A. Notice what Jesus said. Because the Jews would kill God’s Son, the kingdom would be taken from them - Matthew 21:43
B. The Pharisees understood the parable was about them - Matthew 21:45
IV. Did Paul say the Jews, as a nation, would be restored to God’s favor?
A. Was Israel completely rejected? Paul argues no, as he is living proof that some have been accepted - Romans 11:1
1. God has always had a faithful core - Romans 11:2-4
2. That has continued to the time of Paul - Romans 11:5-7
a. Notice that the elect now has God’s grace or favor
b. It is Christians who are the elect - I Peter 1:1-2; Colossians 3:12; II Timothy 2:10
c. Thus the remnant of Israel are those who became a part of the election of God in the church
B. The fall of the majority of Israel was necessary in order to bring in the Gentiles - Romans 11:8-11
C. But if their fall was hard, their return, if it happens, will be all that more glorious - Romans 11:12-15
D. The allegory of the branches
1. Some, not all, of the branches were broken off - Romans 11:16-18
2. They were broken off because of unbelief - Romans 11:19-20
3. God treats the natural branches (the Jews) and the grafted branches (the Gentiles) equally - Romans 11:21-24
a. Unbelief brings removal
b. Belief brings reinstatement – even for the Jews who were broken off
E. The mystery is that even fallen Jews can be saved - Romans 11:25-27
1. They are enemies, but concerning the election they can be beloved - Romans 11:28
2. God’s gift are given equally. They cannot be revoked for one group - Romans 11:29
3. God condemned all under sin that all can be shown mercy in the same way - Romans 11:30-32
F. Thus Paul said that not all Jews were lost at the changing of the covenant, because some through faith switched over to the church. The fall of the majority, though, showed their sins and allowed God to show equal treatment by accepting only those who believed, whether they were Gentile or Jew.
1. Nowhere does Paul relegate this conversion of the Jews to the distant future. Nor does he state that their conversion is connected with Jesus’ second coming.
2. Nowhere does Paul say it would be a complete conversion. He states that it was only if they believed.
3. Nowhere does Paul state that God will ignore the Gentiles and focus only on the Jews.
V. Can modern Israelites be saved?
A. Certainly! By the same manner we are saved - Galatians 3:25-29