Ecclesiology 015

Ecclesiology 015
Romans 11:25b • Dr. Andy Woods • February 25, 2018 • Ecclesiology


Andy Woods

Ecclesiology 15

2-25-18     Lesson 15   Romans 11:25b

Father, we’re grateful for today, we’re grateful for Your provision, Your protection, Your grace and we celebrate today, not necessarily today but last week the homecoming of Dr. Billy Graham and his life and the way You chose to use him to reach so many of the lost with the gospel so we thank you for that.  And if it’s your will, Father God, we need another one so should You see fit to raise up somebody else we would ask you to do that.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Good morning everybody, it’s kind of tough to get out here in the middle of the rain but I appreciate  you all’s endurance.  Let’s take our Bibles and open them to the Book of Romans, chapter 11 and verse 25.  We are continuing our study on the doctrine of the church which a fancy name for that is ecclesiology.  We’ve looked at the definition of the church, the difference between the universal and the local church, some word pictures for the church, we spent some time on the origin of the church, when it started.  And we spent a lot of time on the differences between Israel and the church.  And so sort of a new idea and we started it last week, hopefully we can finish it up this morning, but we started a new idea last week, Roman numeral VI on the concept of the intercalation.  The church is an intercalation and that’s probably a word you’ve never seen before.  It’s a word that Lewis Sperry Chafer used in 1947-1948 to articulate what the church is and so we were sort of in the process of unpacking this idea of the church as an intercalation.

Last week we sort of laid the foundation for the intercalation idea and you can’t really understand the unique insertion of the church by God in His redemptive program until you understand what the nation of Israel is all about, because there’s a lot of people today basically trying to argue that the church is just sort of a continuation of God’s program for Israel.  And we’re trying to say that’s not true; that description falls far short of what the church is.

So to help us understand that we’re trying to explain, first of all, Israel’s program.  And we said, number 1, Israel has promises in the Abrahamic Covenant which are unconditional, meaning they rest completely on God’s shoulders for fulfillment, not the performance of Israel.  Number 2, those promises, even today in the 21st century, are unfulfilled when you take the text at face value.  Number 3, those promises are meant to be construed in their ordinary or literal sense.  And number 4, God has to execute all of these promises for Israel because His program is truthful; when God speaks it’s impossible for Him to lie.  So we know that everything He said about Israel has to come to pass.  And then we saw, number 5, when  you look at these promises very carefully it automat­ically pushes you into the future for their realization. They’re not promises that are happening now, they’re not promises that have happened in the past, they are promises yet future.

And before we explain where the church fits into this whole thing let me just offer here under Roman numeral VI three inadequate explanations.  When  you get into the subject of the nation of Israel there’s always three arguments that people use over and over again to dismiss the idea that God has a future program for Israel.  And it’s sort of like if argument one doesn’t work then they’ll shift to argument two, it that doesn’t work they’ll shift to argument three or sometimes they’ll put two or three arguments together thinking that if people reject one they’ll embrace the other.  And when you cut through all of the verbiage it really boils down to three things people say over and over again to dismiss the idea that God has a future program for Israel. And you’ll notice that some of these things can’t be true because of what we covered last week.

So the first argument that they say is Israel broke God’s covenant and so therefore God cancelled Israel’s promises.  And they talk about how bad the Jews are and all the bad things they did and after all, the majority in the nation of Israel, not the minority but the majority, particular the leader­-ship rejected Jesus so God is through with the Jew.  The Jews can get saved in the church age but as far as a program of God  for the nation where He’s going to fulfill their national promises of an earthly kingdom, they’re saying that can’t happen because they broke God’s covenant and so God cancelled their covenant.

Of course, that whole argument disintegrates when you understand that the Abrahamic Covenant is what kind of covenant?  Conditional or unconditional?  Unconditional!  Now it’s not as if God doesn’t discipline Israel but when He chastises Israel and disciplines Israel that’s not the same thing as saying God has cancelled Israel’s program.  And that’s where the confusion is.  The Mosaic Covenant, which was given about six centuries after the Abrahamic Covenant is the instrument that God uses to discipline Israel, the terms rather.  But those terms, although they can be very severe, never cancel Israel’s unconditional foundational covenant.

If I can use this example it’s a lot like your salvation.  The moment you trust in Christ as your Savior your arrival in heaven is guaranteed.  That cannot be altered.   However, “whom the Lord loves the Lord” what? “chastens” and has anybody in here ever been under the chastening hand of God.  I have, it’s not the most pleasant experience to be under.  But the chastening hand of God, although it can be very severe, does not cancel my eternity.  See that?  Any more than you kids, when they act up and you discipline your kids that doesn’t mean they’re not your kids any more.  I mean, you might wish they weren’t your kids but they’re still yours and in fact the proof that they’re yours is your willingness to discipline them.  See that?

So that’s what God has set up with the nation of Israel; He’s given them a covenant which can never be revoked; that’s called the Abrahamic Covenant.  But under the auspices of the Mosaic Covenant discipline can be very severe.  So people like to gravitate towards the passages which talk about the discipline of Israel and act like that means God has cancelled Israel and  that would violate the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant.

So this is why one of the verses, some of the verses we read last time comes right out of Jeremiah 31 where God says to Israel in the midst of terrible sin that they were committing just before the deportation, He says as long as there’s sun, moon and stars Israel will always be a nation before Me. In other words don’t confuse My disciplinary hand on you through the Mosaic Covenant with My ownership of you as revealed in the Abrahamic Covenant.  People get those covenants confused constantly and they confuse discipline with God severing His program with Israel.  So that’s the first argument people use, the Jews broke their word to God and so God broke His word to the Jews.  Well, that can’t happen because of the Abrahamic Covenant although discipline is a reality.

The second argument that they use is Israel’s promises are already fulfilled.  And I think I mentioned this last time, when Donald Trump moved the American Embassy recently from Tel Aviv or put the framework in place to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem a lot of evangelical Christians, myself included, thought that was a great thing that he did.  BUT, a lot of evangelical Christians said why are you so excited about land promises to Israel, don’t you know the land promises have already been fulfilled.  And they point to passages in Joshua and the Solomonic reign where supposedly the land promises were fulfilled.  And that’s why we walked through very carefully last time that Israel’s promises to this day remain in a state of unfulfillment.

The dark area is what Israel received under Joshua; that lighter area is everything that’s been promised.  And that map today is pretty much a pretty decent replica, with a few changes of what Israel has today as well.  Israel today has a very small sliver of everything God’s promised.  So the promises remain unfulfilled despite the fact that people try to say don’t worry about those promises, they’ve already been fulfilled.  And if those two arguments don’t work they’ll throw a third argument at you and they’ll say Israel’s promises are now being fulfilled in a spiritual sense through the church.  So what they’ll try to argue is Israel’s terrestrial or earthly promises have now been transferred to the church and they call the church the new Israel.

Now notice specifically what they do; the curses of discipline they don’t take for the church.  Have you noticed that!  They leave those behind for the Jewish people but they take all of the blessings and to do that is to de-literalize the blessings.  If you get into that game what you’re doing is you’re taking those promises not at face value but  you’re taking them symbolically and allegorically when the text doesn’t communicate that.  And what you have to start doing is you have to get really inconsistent in your method of interpretation.’

One of my heroes, theological heroes, pastoral heroes of the past was the late D. James Kennedy.  I always enjoyed listening to his broadcasts and things of that nature.  I appreciated things he said on the culture war.  And I went, and he had a little booklet on the Seventy Weeks of Daniel, and he comes from a very Presbyterian amillennial replacement theology sort of perspective although he didn’t showcase that on his television program.  And I looked very carefully at what he did with the seventy weeks of Daniel because what he says in this little booklet, I should have brought it in, kind of for show and tell, is he makes this tremendous case about how Jesus fulfilled literally everything that’s in the first sixty-nine weeks of the prophecy.  And then he got to the seventieth week and it’s almost like he took off one set of glasses and put on another set of glasses and all this stuff about a future antichrist and all of these kinds of things, a future seventieth week of Daniel, he basically tried to argue that that’s all allegorical.

And I point him out because I think he’s a great guy; I benefitted greatly from his ministry but what I’m trying to say is even the best of the best, even the crème de la crème shall we say, will do this to you.  They will interpret some of the passages literally and if it relates to the future suddenly those passages become allegorical.  And that’s sort of the game you have to play if you want to argue that Israel’s promises are being fulfilled today in the church age.

So just to exemplify this look at Deuteronomy 30:3, I know I had you turn to Romans but if you look at Deuteronomy 30:3 it says, “then the LORD” to Israel, “…will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.”   So notice these three verbs that I have underlined here, restore from captivity, that’s verb number one.  Number two, I’m going to “gather you again from all peoples,” that verb number two.  And verb number three is where the Lord  has scattered you.”  So if  you’re arguing that Israel’s promises are being fulfilled today in a spiritual sense what you end up doing is you’re taking verb number one literally, you’re taking verb number two literally because everybody believes Israel was brought back to the land of Israel after the seventy year captivity.  I’m sorry, verb number one is literal, verb number three is literal because they all believe in a scattering of Israel, but what do you do with verb number two?  I’m going to “regather you again from all peoples of the earth.”  Isn’t that literal as well?   And they would say no because the church is the new Israel and there is no literal regathering of the Jews into their homeland.

So what I’m saying is you take passages like this and right in the middle of the text you take some passages literally and some texts allegorically.  So I “will restore you from captivity,” that’s literal; “where the Lord God has scattered you,” that’s literal.  But right in the middle it says “and I will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord God has scattered you,” they would say that’s allegorical.  And this is how you can recognize that this doctrine of replacement theology, amillen­nialism, all of these things can’t be true because  to make it work you have to wildly fluctuate your method of interpretation, sometimes right in the middle of a verse.  And this is just par for the course when it comes to replacement theology, they do this all the time.

So one of the things we emphasize around here is not just literal interpretation.  Everybody interprets the Bible literally at points; if they didn’t they wouldn’t even be an orthodox Christian.  What we emphasize here is not just literal interpretation, note this next word, it’s very important, “consistent literal interpretation.”  What we say is when we look at passages like this I don’t have the freedom to say this one is literal, this one is allegorical.  I’ve got to, whatever method of interpretation I’m going to use I’ve got to consistently apply that.  See that?  And as you start doing that you start to understand that Israel’s program is not being fulfilled right now in the church.  Israel’s program is going to be fulfilled in a literal earthly kingdom one day.

So regardless of who your favorite author is, regardless of who your favorite theologian is, regard-less of who your favorite Christian television pastor is, your authority as a Christian needs to come from the Bible.  And you have to screen people. Yours truly included, to make sure that they’re consistent in their approach.

So how do people dismiss Israel from their thinking?  There’s always these three arguments: Israel broke her word to God so God broke His Word to Israel.  That can’t be true because of the Abrahamic Covenant.  Israel’s promises have already been fulfilled.  That can’t be true when you study the dimensions of those promises.  And then number three, Israel’s program is being fulfilled now in a spiritual sense through the church.  That can’t be true because I have to be inconsistent in my method of interpretation.  So all of these things that we’ve been talking about have been building to this point.  Israel’s program is unconditional, it’s unfulfilled, it’s literal, it’s future, there is no coherent explanation that people can come up with to dismiss God’s work with Israel.  And yet God is at work today, isn’t He.  God is at work as He is today building His church, He’s been doing this for two thousand years.  Clearly God is at work today because Jesus said “I will build My church.”  [Matthew 16:18, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”]  Clearly God is at work today as Acts 15:14 says, “taking from among the Gentiles a people for His own name.”  [Acts 15:14, “Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.”]  God is doing that, isn’t He?  Clearly God is at work, that’s why I had you open to Romans 11:25, which says, “…that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;”

So God has put Israel into time out, like for disobedient children, like you put your kids into time out.  They’ve been in “time out” for 2,000 years, Israel has.  And yet does this mean that God is not doing anything today?  Of course it doesn’t mean that because God can’t leave the earth without a witness of Himself.  He’s doing something extraordinary that we are part of through the church.

So if God is clearly at work today what do you call it?  Do you call it the new Israel?  Do you call it a continuation of God’s program with Israel?  No, you can’t call it that because the work of God through the church today is very different than what he has done in the past through Israel.  And it’s very different than what He will do in the future through Israel.  How do I know that?  Because didn’t we go over 24 differences between Israel and the church?

There’s slide one, eight differences:

Israel                                              Church

1, Marriage:                   Wife                                                  Bride

2, Christ:                        Birthed Christ,                                Birthed by Christ

3. Return:                       2nd advent                                       Rapture

4.  Leader:                      King                                               Head/Groom

5. Beginning:                 Genesis 12                                      Acts 2

6. Scripture:                   4/5                                                   1/5.

7. Covenants:                 Parties                                             Beneficiaries

8. Nation:                       Political                                           Spiritual

There’s slide two, eight more differences.

9. Wars:                         Political                                           Spiritual.

10. Timing:                    a quo/ad quem                                 No time indicators.

11. Priesthood                have a priesthood,                           Are a priesthood.

12. Temple                     Physical,                                          Body.

13.  Resurrection:          1st resurrection                                 Rapture.

14.  Judgment                Earthly (Ezekiel 20:33-44)              Heavenly (Bema)

15.  New Jerusalem:      Gates                                                Foundations

16.  Entrance                  Physical birth                                  Spiritual birth

There’s slide three, eight more differences.

17. Governing principle         OT Mosaic Law                              NT Law of Christ (Spirit)

18.  Relation to HS                 Selective, temporary, subsequent.     Universal, permanent at moment of                                                                                                    salvation

19.  Farewell address              Olivet Discourse                            Upper Room Discourse.

20. Designation:                      First Born Son                               Bride of Christ

21,  Revealed in OT:               Yes                                                No

22.  Evangelism                      Come & See                                  Go & Proclaim

23.  Blessings                          Earthly                                         Heavenly

24, Composition                     Believers & Unbelievers,             Believers Only                                             ———————————————————————————————————————

I mean, the more you look at what God is doing today and compare it to what He has done and will do through Israel the more you start seeing the church is something that is unique, it’s something that is different.  It’s almost something that’s foreign in comparison to what God has done and will do through the nation of Israel.

For example, we’ve looked at Ezekiel 36, verses 24-28.  God  says to Israel I’m going to” gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own” what? “land.  What land is that talking about there?  The United States of America?  No, it’s talking about “the land” that He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  [25]  “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean;”  I’ll “put a new spirit within you” and people say well that’s God’s work through the church today.  In fact, pastors will get all lathered up and talk about how God is doing this great work today and they’ll quote Ezekiel 36.  The problem is that can’t be happening today because we’re on the wrong continent first of all.  I mean, we’re not in the land of Israel.  And this prophecy, when you under­stand it at face value is talking about what is happening in the land of Israel.

[Ezekiel 36:25b I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. [26] Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. [27]  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. [28] You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.”]

Ezekiel 37 is similar, it talks about these bones.  You remember the vision, Ezekiel is taken and he sees these bones scattered and God asks him can these bones live?  And Ezekiel says well Lord, only You know.  And then he heard a great noise and a great rattling and he saw the bones re-assembled so that they form a human body, and then he saw skin and sinews and muscle form over the body so that it forms an actual person.  And then is says there, [Ezekiel 37:8b] “but there was no breath in them.”  “So I prophesied as He commanded me,” and they came to life.  [Ezekiel 37:10, “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.]

Now when you go down to verse 11 it says, “these bones are the whole house of”’ what? “Israel.”   [37:11, “Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’”]  And Israel, guess what it always means in the Bible?  Israel.  And when it says “land” it’s talking about the land of Israel.  So it’s a wonderful prophecy but if you care about details it’s obviously yet future.  See that?  Same with Ezekiel 36.  And  yet we can all testify that God is at work today at Sugar Land Bible Church in the 21st century.

So the big issue is if God is at work today through the church and it’s not Israel’s program, what do you call the church exactly.  And this is where Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer came  up with the term “intercalation.”   And as much as people have tried to wrestle with this and grapple with this I haven’t found any explanation any better than the one that he came up with.  This unique work of God between the day of Pentecost and the rapture that’s been going on for 2,000 years, we are all part of it, and he called it an intercalation.  And what exactly is an intercalation?  It is the present work of God is… here’s some synonyms for intercalation.  The present work of God is an interruption, an interval, let me throw some more at you that aren’t on the screen, an interpolation, another word I can throw in is a hiatus.  The present work of God is an interruption, and interval, an interpolation, a hiatus, a parenthesis, or (here comes the big word, all synonyms for what I’ve been trying to say) or an intercalation in God’s work with Israel.

And that is what the church is; the church is not Israel.  It’s obvious it’s not Israel for the reasons we’ve stated.  It is clearly a work of God.  And Israel’s program isn’t being fulfilled today and it hasn’t been cancelled so what do you call the present work of God?  A lot of people just say well, it’s the new Israel, we’re the new Israel.  Or we’re the kingdom.  NO, the church is an intercalation, an interruption in God’s program for Israel, which has never been cancelled.  Do you see that?

And this is why the Apostle Paul, in describing the church, calls it (Ephesians 2:15) a new man.  [Ephesians 2:15, “by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.”] See that?  In Himself He might take the two, that’s believing Jews and believing Gentiles in the current age, they are brought together into one new man.  So if it was simply a continuation of God’s work with Israel it couldn’t be new, could it?

And  yet the definition of the church is so specific from Paul that he calls it something new.  And this is why… what’s new about it?  It’s Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body and fellow partakers of the promises in Jesus Christ.  You can read your Old Testament until your eyeballs drop out of your eye socket and the reality is you will never find this concept in the Old Testament anywhere.   You go through the Old Testament and even into the life of Christ, the preeminent servants of God are always Israel.  If you want to learn about Israel you had to submit, as a proselyte, and believe in the God of Yahweh.  You believed in the God of Yahweh to be justified, you submitted to the Mosaic Law and so forth to grow in your relationship with Yahweh.

I mean, Israel is the main thing in the Old Testament.  Israel is going to be the main thing in the kingdom.  And  yet what is happening now is Gentiles and Jews are fellow partakers in this new man.  There is not distinction whatsoever in the present age between a believing Jew and a believing Gentile.  We’re not living in an age of time where the Jewish Christians are elevated over the Gentile Christians.  We’re not living in a time where we have to go to Israel to learn of God.  We’re living in a new period of time called an intercalation, where Gentiles and Jews are joint heirs and fellow members of the body of Christ.  That is a mind-blowing statement.  We take it for granted because we’re used to it but when Paul wrote this he’s articulating something that God is doing in a brand new sense.  And this is why the church is called a mystery in Paul’s thinking.

What is a mystery?  A mystery is something that has been secret but now has been made manifest.  Romans 16:25-26.  [Romans 16:25-26, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, [26] but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith.”]

He says the same thing in Colossians 1:26, something hidden but now manifested.  [Colossians 1:26, “that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints.”]  And when you look into the Greek lexicon, that’s basically what you have with the definition of a mystery.  What God is doing today, not only has He not done it in the past but it’s not even revealed.  And you don’t really have any great clarity on the subject until the writings of the Apostle Paul.  The Apostle Paul is describing something in Ephesians and in his thirteen letters, primarily, that God started as a unique work that began in Acts 2.  The mystery did not start with Paul; they mystery started in Acts 2 but Paul is explaining the mystery, like very few people in the Bible do.  And that is the definition of the church.  It is something completely foreign, completely unique inserted as an interruption or to use the Chaferian term, intercalation in God’s past work and future work with Israel.

So here is the quote from Chafer where he describes this:  “In fact, the new, hitherto unrevealed purpose of God in the out calling of a heavenly people from Jews and Gentiles is so divergent with respect to the divine purpose toward Israel, which purpose preceded it and will yet follow it, that the term parenthetical, commonly employed to describe the new age purpose, is inaccurate.”  So you’ll notice here that I use the word “parenthesis” to describe it.  Chafer said that doesn’t even get the job done because it leads… in a parenthesis you’re writing something, a letter to someone and you put something in a parenthesis at least the parenthesis relates to the idea that came before it and the idea that came after it.  He’s saying what is happening today is so incredibly unique that even the term “parenthesis” doesn’t work.  So what’s the correct term?  He said, “A parenthetical portion sustains some direct and indirect relation to that which goes before or that which follows; but the present age-purpose is not thus related and therefore is more properly termed an intercalation.”…

The quote goes on and he says, “… The appropriateness of this word will be seen in the fact that, as an interpolation is formed by inserting a word or phrase into a context, so when intercalation is formed by introducing a day or a period of time into the calendar. The present age of the church is an intercalation into the revealed calendar or program of God as that program was foreseen by the prophets of old. Such, indeed, is the precise character of the present age.”  [vol. 4, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 41]

Now so many people come to me and they write e-mails to me and they say how come  your church isn’t respecting the seven feasts of Israel?  And actually I’ve got to correct them a little bit because there’s nine feasts because God added two—you mean the nine feasts of Israel… yeah!   How come you guys don’t practice the feasts?  Are you against the feasts?  Are you against practicing the feasts?  Well of course I’m not against the feasts; the feasts are part of God’s program for Israel, they’re mandatory.  You see them spelled out there in Leviticus 23 but the reality of the situation is that relates to a specific calendar for the nation of Israel.  The church is given no feast days; it’s given no calendar.  As we went through the twenty-four differences between Israel and the church it’s given a completely different leadership structure.  It’s not even an earthly people; it’s a heavenly people.  So since that distinction exists why would I stand in this pulpit and demand that people honor and practice the seven feasts.

Now if people want to go back and practice the seven feasts and to learn about their heritage and how they all point to Christ, no problem, if God has called you to do that.  But the church cannot make such a practice mandatory or compulsory on Christians everywhere because those are not related to the church, a new man; those are all related to the nation of Israel.  See that?  Now if I believed that the church was the new Israel then maybe the feasts would fit somewhere, in a mandatory sense.  But they don’t fit in this unique man called “the new man” or an intercalation.  So what is the church?

And people says why did you spend so much time on the seventy weeks of Daniel prophecy?  I mean, you spent more time on the seventy weeks of Daniel’s prophecy than the seventy weeks that Daniel received from God.  I mean, you literally spent seventy weeks on the seventy weeks prophecy.   Well, actually I spent six weeks on the prophecy but who’s counting, right?  The reason I wanted us to understand that, the reason I slowed down more than normal, and I go pretty slow anyway, is because I want people to see that the church is a unique work of God that has interrupted the first sixty-nine weeks which have been fulfilled literally, and the seventieth week which is yet to be fulfilled.

So this chart here encompasses it as well.  That’s who we are; we’re living in between the past fulfillment and the future fulfillment of not only the seventy weeks prophecy but a plethora of other prophecies that I’ll allude to in just a minute.

So we are this… I would call us a gap, an interruption, and intercalation, a hiatus, an interpolation, whatever vocabulary you want to use, in between God’s past work and future work with Israel.  We are not Israel!  The name “Israel” is used 73 times in the New Testament and guess what it means every single time?  Any guesses?  It means Israel!  Israel is a technical name.  You say what does that mean, “a technical name”?  It’s a rare word that every time it’s used, no matter where you find it, it always means the same thing.  Israel always refers to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  And as  much as people through their elastic method of interpretation want to make it sound like the church is the new Israel the reality of the situation is the Bible does not support that view.  It doesn’t matter who popularizes it, it doesn’t matter how articulate the spokesperson is, it doesn’t matter if they’re on television, it doesn’t matter if they’re written a string of bestselling Christians books, it doesn’t matter if they’ve made some great contribution to the culture war.

Whatever good they’ve done they have no authority biblically whatsoever to call the church Israel.  You start doing that and you find yourself on shaky ground with the Bible and with the God who wrote the Bible.  The church is NOT Israel, the church is an insertion or an interruption or an intercalation into God’s program for Israel.  See that?   And this is so fundamental towards  understanding who we are.  I mean, you can’t become what God has called you to become in God unless  you understand your identity.  And so part of this study of ecclesiology is helping us to understand what exactly is the identity of the church under God.

In prior sessions we’ve made reference to many of these prophecies.  Isaiah 9:6 says, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;” and that’s the first coming, “And the government will rest on His shoulders; wait a minute, that’s which coming?  The second coming.  Well, Isaiah, you skipped a bunch of stuff, what’s going on in between the comings?  That’s us!  That’s the mystery, something that Isaiah himself didn’t see or understand and Paul had to be raised up to explain it.  Do you see that?  So Bible prophecy, we’ve used this example, is like looking at two mountains in the distance and when you look at two mountains in the distance what don’t you see?  The valley between the mountains.  Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel didn’t see the valley, didn’t even know such a valley was coming.  And  yet when the nation of Israel rejected their Messiah and God started the church in Acts 2 and He started this new body or this new man that will continue right on through the rapture, this man that He is building today, you have no explanation of this other than a few hints that it’s coming in Christ’s earthly ministry.  And if God had not used Paul the way He did we really wouldn’t understand it either.

I mean, have you ever asked yourself this question: why was Paul in prison so frequently?  Have you ever asked that?  I mean every time he’s doing something someone is throwing him in jail.  He’s in prison in Caesarea, like a two year wait, and then the Book of Acts closes with him in prison in Rome.  Well, I think the reason that he was in jail so frequently is that was the design of God for his life because in biblical times  you don’t have cable TV to watch in prison, you can’t go get a tattoo, I don’t think there was a weight room.  So he is in a place of being undistracted and he is in a perfect place to receive revelation from God about what exactly?  About a work that God is doing in the valley called the intercalation.  See that?  And Paul better than anybody else, although Christ hints of it Paul explains it.

And don’t confuse the explanation with when the mystery started; that’s another error people make, they think the mystery started with Paul.  That is not true, Paul explained the mystery that started in Acts 2 and… you know, aren’t we in Daniel still, some of  you are wondering how long we’re going to be in Daniel (I’m wondering that myself).  But we just went through a great big gap between verse 35 and verse 36 in Daniel 11. It just jumped from Antiochus to antichrist and we say wait a minute, what about all that period of time in between?  I mean, where would you go in the Bible to discover that?  You’ve got to go to the writings of Paul for the explanation of this hiatus or intercalation interpolation that we’re in.

There was a gap between verse 40 and verse 41 of Daniel 2 as Daniel saw the prophecy moving from ancient Rome to a Revived Rome in the end times, under the antichrist which hasn’t been fulfilled yet.  And so right in between the ankles and the feet is a period of at least 2,600 years.  And where in the world would you go in the Bible to learn about this 2,600 years?  You can’t go to Daniel to learn about it, he knew nothing about it.  You’ve got to go to Paul for the explanation of it.  See that?  So that is our identity.

And just because I say the church isn’t Israel don’t misunderstand me, I’m NOT saying that God isn’t working today.  He clearly is working but in a fresh way, in a unique way, that is unrelated to God’s description of His program with Israel.  And in fact one of the great things He’s doing today, in addition to building His church, is He’s allowing the Gentiles, primarily, to get saved in droves.   I mean, it’s not the Jews that are getting saved today although many do and some do, I’m simply saying that’s not the majority.

Ever since Paul goes on his first missionary journey beginning in Acts 13 as is his custom he goes to the synagogue of every city he goes into, except if they didn’t have a synagogue, like Philippi, and he goes in there and they reject him.  He reasons with them in this… like within Thessalonica,  I think he reasoned with them for about three weeks in the synagogue proving that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah.  They reject him, many times they kick him out, so he goes amongst the Gentiles and he gets all these believers.  I mean, that’s what happens over and over and over again with Paul.

And that pattern is what’s happening today.  The Jewish people, although many do get saved, as Paul says, have a blindness over their eyes and it’s very difficult to reach out to a Jewish person with the gospel.  But the guy down the street that pumps gas for a living and works in the liquor store, the guy with the tattoos all over him, the guy that likes all that music we don’t like, that guy gets saved.  The longhaired guy, or the shorthaired guy or the college dropout or the high school dropout, that guy gets saved and here you’re reasoning with all these educated lawyers and doctors and they can’t understand what you’re talking about.

That is an explanation of what God is doing in the intercalation where the fullness of the Gentiles is coming in.  And notice this, it says Israel’s hardening is what?  Partial, the hardening that Israel is under today will not be forever and the Gentiles coming to Christ in droves today will not be forever.  One of these days the very last Gentile is going to come in, the body of Christ will me made complete at that point.  I would assume that the translation of the church will occur after that number has come in and then God, who is not forgetful of His prior covenants with Israel will fulfill everything He said He would ever do, in and through the nation of Israel.

So that is who we are; we are this, I would put it this way, using Chafer’s analogy, we are this unique intercalation.  Now the moment you say the church is an intercalation in God’s program for Israel is the moment you should put your helmet on because people are going to start throwing rocks at  you.   And here’s what they’re going to say, and I’ve had this rock thrown at me for decades.  This is a citation from R. C. Sproul’s Tabletalk Magazine, 1999.  R. C. Sproul, as you know, recently died, went to the presence of the Lord.  People say well don’t you love R. C. Sproul?  Yeah, a lot of the things R. C. Sproul said and taught I like, but you have to understand that when you’re listening to a voice like R. C. Sproul you’re not dealing with somebody who understands ecclesiology properly.  In fact, the view that I’m giving right now about the church, it’s an interruption in God’s plan for Israel, was despised by R. C. Sproul.  In fact, if you put your ear to the ground you can hear the man rolling over in his grave as I’m talking.

And it’s not just R. C. Sproul, it’s the Reformed movement in general that has carte blanche rejected the intercalation concept.  And I use this not to disparage R. C. Sproul, I like a lot of the things he said and did; I think I’ve been very clear about that.  But I use this to show the mindset of replacement theologians.  He writes, “We are not dispensationalists here….We believe that the church is essentially Israel.”  See that?  “We believe that the answer to, ‘What about the Jews?’ is, ‘Here we are.’ We deny” now watch this, “We deny that the church is God’s ‘plan B.’ We deny that we are living in God’s redemptive parenthesis. There, we are again one people. In His holy and heavenly temple there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, pre-mil nor post-mil. There, we are all together, the Israel of God, princes with God, and the ekklesia, the set apart ones.”  [From Table Talk magazine, Spring of 1999, p. 2 (inside cover), by R. C. Sproul Jr., editor, emphasis is mine.]

So what he is arguing here is that the church is a continuation of Israel and God’s promises to   Israel have been transferred to the church.  And so you ask them well what about all the promises regarding a future for the nation of Israel and they would say there are no such promises.  All of those promises get reinterpreted through his preexisting grid.  And if you begin to articulate that the church is an interruption or an intercalation in God’s program for Israel you are immediately accused of teaching that the church is plan B.  This is a disparaging comment that is made to get people to not believe the sort of view that Chafer is articulating.  They will come back at you very fast and they will say so you believe the church is plan B; you believe that God said oh no, Israel didn’t reject My Son and therefore the kingdom has been postponed, you know, poor God, got sweaty palms and didn’t know what to do.  What am I going to do says God, oh I know, as an afterthought  I’ll raise up the church.

And so they think that that’s how we think about this concept of an intercalation.  And I want you  to see that this is what is called in logic a strawman fallacy.  A strawman fallacy is where you miss characterize and misrepresent what your opponent is saying.  And in the misrepresentation you tear down not what they’re really saying but your misrepresentation of it.  And it’s called a logical fallacy because you’re really not dealing with the arguments of your opponent, the only thing you’re dealing with is your misrepresentation of what your opponent is saying.

And it’s called a straw man fallacy because it’s like a man of straw which falls over very quickly because it’s not a real man, it’s a straw man that you’ve created.  And people use… just watch people in politics, they do this all the time.  If you vote for my opponent your social security check is going to be taken away, that kind of thing…when the opponent never said that!  But it doesn’t matter, all you’ve got to do is misrepresent what your opponent says and you win the election.  See that?  That’s what’s called a straw man fallacy and sadly within Christianity there’s a strawman fallacy over and over again.  Why is it a straw man fallacy?  Because we have never said the church is plan B.

What is the church?  Ephesians 3:11 Paul describing the church, “This was in accordance” the church “ with the” what?  What’s the next word there, “eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  What is the church?  Is the church plan B? Is the church an afterthought?  Quite the contrary, the church was always part of God’s eternal plan.  It’s just that the church was not revealed in the Old Testament.  Humans didn’t understand it, Daniel didn’t understand it, Isaiah didn’t understand it, Ezekiel didn’t understand it, but God always knew it was there.  And in fact God Himself foreordained for it to be there.  And just because the whole material is not revealed in the Old Testament doesn’t mean it’s an afterthought, doesn’t mean it’s an accident.  It doesn’t mean it’s plan B.   And watch this very carefully, it doesn’t mean the church is less important than Israel.  If it’s part of the eternal purpose of God then the church is just as important as God’s past dealings and future dealings with Israel.  See that?

So this idea that we teach the church is plan B, I mean, I don’t believe that; Paul the apostle didn’t teach that.  So why does he go around saying that?  Because it’s a great way to just disparage views that diverge from your preexisting belief system.  And this is why a like this citation from Thomas Ice, who I think is doing better in terms of his health, he had a heart attack recently or a quadruple of quintuple bypass.

But he wrote this back in 2003. He says, ““In almost 35 years since I have become a dispensationalist, I have never heard nor read of a dispensationalist teaching a plan B scenario. Yet opponents often present this straw man in their statement of what we supposedly believe. We believe that God’s single plan has always included the Church, but He did not reveal the church age part of the plan in the Old Testament. . . . Paul states specifically that the church age ‘was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord’” Ephesians 3:11, that’s the verse we looked at a second ago which calls the church the eternal purpose of God.  “This is why dispensationalists have never taught the so-called plan A and plan B theory that critics suppose we hold. Dispensationalists have always taught that there is a single plan carried out in stages.”  [Thomas Ice, “The Uniqueness of the Church,” Pre-Trib Perspectives 8, no. 6 (September 2003): 4]

So just because the plan came into existence because of the Jewish rejection of Jesus Christ doesn’t mean the plan is outside of God’s will and it doesn’t mean the church age plan was somehow an afterthought in God; it’s just as much part of the plan of God as is Israel, it just hadn’t been revealed yet.  And yet you’ll find people using this language, plan B, over and over again. Even at Dallas Seminary, Darrell Bock, who is a progressive dispensationalist… what does that mean?  He’s trying to merge Reformed theology with dispensational theology.  He’s trying to find a middle ground between the two which is very common in postmodern circles.  The way they think in postmodern epistemology, which is your doctrine of knowledge, is the truth is always in the middle somewhere.   So you find areas where people of divergent perspectives agree and once you find the common area of agreement that becomes the new truth.  See that?  Postmodernism!

Right now our nation is in a debate about gun control; one side says the second amendment (and I’m on this side, by the way) is a God-given right, it shouldn’t be infringed upon.  Another side says no, guns are dangerous, so where’s the truth in that?  Well it’s got to be in the middle. So we will promote (quote) “reasonable gun control” (close quote) whatever that means, and then the next shooting will happen and they’ll put out another piece of reasonable gun control, and by the time you’re finished with all this reasonable gun control there won’t be any second amendment left.  See that?  It’s a game of, I like to call it middle ground mania, that’s how post moderns think.  This is how progressive dispensationalists think.  And so Darrell Back, I had him for some classes at Dallas Seminary, would ridicule the idea of the intercalation as misrepresenting it the same way R. C. Sproul does, as a plan B scenario when in fact that is nothing but a strawman argument.

So understanding the intercalation is so key to understanding our identity.  I can’t stress this enough and I’m out of time and so we’ll pick it up with points 9 and 10 next week, to show you that we still have a role in the kingdom once it comes.  The kingdom is not here yet; we are heavenly people but that’s not to say that when God establishes His kingdom through Israel the church will be non-existent in the kingdom.  In fact, your New Testament is very clear that we play a role in the kingdom although the kingdom is not now.   Any comments or questions.