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Saturday, December 4, 2021

More Misrepresentations of Ultradispensationalism

 I'll post the link so you can read the entire article for yourself. I not feel the need to try and address every point it tries to make as I most likely have somewhere on these pages. Perhaps I will take it up on a podcast.

What I will do is note a few problems with the approach the author makes (ignoring his condescending attitude). 

After quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34, the article notes that the New Covenant is yet to be made with ‘the house of Israel and the house of Judah (v.31), not with Gentiles’, adding that this covenant is to be made ‘with the same peoplewho broke the first [Mosaic] covenant, not with Gentiles who had no part in the first covenant and so have no part in the second one’.

We are told that people who believe that the words of Christ in Luke 22:20 (‘this is my blood of the New Covenant’) announced the bringing in of the New Covenant are wrong. Why? Because ‘during the Acts period, the Jews, both Christians and non-Christians, still observed the law of Moses, the Old Covenant; and we read in Hebrews 8:13 that the Old Covenant was obsolete and ageing and was “soon to disappear”.’

‘This verse’, the writer claims, ‘shows us clearly that the New Covenant had not yet come in; the Old Covenant was still operating’.

The gist of this argument is that since Christ noted that the Passover meal ("the Last Supper") represented the blood of the New Covenant, somehow that means the New Covenant is here. Well, if that was "the bringing in of the New Covenant," does that mean the NC was inaugurated before the cross and resurrection? That is, must we conclude that the NC came in the moment the Lord uttered those words? If not, why not?

For the sake of argument, let's assume he means it was yet future to that pronouncement (irony noted), and commenced with the Jewish Feast of Pentecost in Acts 2 with only Jews present.

If the NC was indeed yet future, what in the NC itself states that it would come in at Pentecost (Acts 2)? And has anyone bothered to read the New Covenant in either Jeremiah or Ezekiel or Zechariah? Let's just stick with Jeremiah 31 for a moment since the author references it there (without quotation).

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: 33 but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

If you'll note, the author of the article dismisses the first half of this section, then goes on to ignore the second half of the actual New Covenant. 

Does he truly believe the following to be true in this age or anytime since the Last Passover?

  • I will put my law in their inward parts
  • And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them

When we cross-reference this age with the statement in Ezekiel, we see that it must pertain to national Israel. Now, for the sake of space, I'm not going to quote the entire passage, but I urge you to go read Ezekiel 36 and try to cram Gentiles and the current age in there. Here is just one excerpt:

For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

As noted, Jeremiah states that "the law" will be the inward parts of the believer. I note Paul's words in Galatians, "Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?" The author will go on to argue that "The covenant with Abraham was made before he was circumcised" (which we will cover below). Abraham's justification has nothing to do with the law, yet the New Covenant is specific to the law. 

We have a similar problem in Ezekiel. At the time of the NC, the Lord will "cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." The Apostles wasted a lot of ink if the promises in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 are here today. That is, they list a lot of sins of the flesh that believers can and do engage in (including murder, adultery, idolatry, etc.). And the NC promise clearly involves an earthly plan. This future condition involves an earthly people with an earthly covenant ("And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers"). It is not a covenant of grace with a hope of heaven. 

Paul teaches us in Romans that the Messiah came to "confirm the promises made to the fathers" (Rom 15:8). The Lord Himself testified that he was "sent to none, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt 15:24) If the author wants to contend the Lord meant some "spiritual Israel" made up of all believers of all races, this is an odd statement made to a Gentile who believed. 

There is a further problem with those believers who lived before there was an Israel, before there was an Abraham, but we'll leave that there.

From the article:

For, while most Christians certainly deny that all the covenants belonged exclusively to ethnic Israel, the allegation misses the important fact, emphasized by Paul, that the covenant with Abraham was made before he was circumcised, and therefore while not, strictly speaking, an Israelite. The first ‘Israelite’ was Jacob, Abraham’s grandson (Genesis 17; Romans 3:9-11).

Paul's point is that Abraham's justification by faith was available for all who were in Abraham by faith. This truth is universal to scripture. Was Noah in Abraham? No. But was Noah justified in uncircumcision by faith? Absolutely.

 To highlight this distinction and mark it separate from the covenant of Sinai and the sovereign choice of Israel to be a "royal priesthood" and a "holy nation" (Ex 19:3-7). We only add in regard to this last point the question, "priests for whom?" That Question is answered in Zech 8:23 (which is also yet future to the current age unless anyone thinks people are begging believers today to be taken to God). It is also implied in the promise in Exodus 19 itself. Even without Zechariah, the question presents itself: if Israel (alone) were to be a nation of priests, she must be a priests for someone else. 

Lastly, in the life of Israel under the Law (which is part of the NC as we have seen), Gentiles living among Israel were treated differently. They could participate in some parts of the law, but not all. To participate in all, they had to become proselytes, that is, they had to be circumcised. Circumcision is connected to the Law, NOT to justification. The Laws of the Gentiles in Israel are summed up in the "necessary things" of Acts 15 and Acts 21 taken from Leviticus 23. Thus we see Jewish and Gentile believers in the Acts Age continued to be treated differently and as under the Law (but never for justification). These looked for "the hope of Israel" and "the promises made to the fathers" and "the restoration of the Kingdom in Israel" and "the law written on their hearts" and to "dwell in the land [the LORD[ gave to their fathers." 

Let me bullet point these hopes and callings (and this list is just a sample):

  • "the hope of Israel"
  • "the promises made to the fathers"
  • "the restoration of the Kingdom in Israel"
  • "the law written on their hearts"
  • "dwell in the land [the LORD] gave to their fathers." 

These are tied to the New Covenant, not the hope which is in the far above the heavens where Christ sits on the right hand of the father. Do we just explain away the differences because the catechism of men says so? Or do we compare scripture with scripture and mark the things that differ?

One can have the hope of a land. One can the hope of the New Jerusalem which comes down from the heavens to the earth. These are earthly hopes. And to emphasize that faith is the key to certain hopes and blessings (not all), Paul points to Abraham and notes his "uncircumcision" in his justification. But let's be careful lest we make vast application of this to all commands, promises, and hopes. This is what "progressive Christians" do to justify all sorts of wickedness.

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 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. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

-Galatians 3:27-29 

Do we want to apply the latter across all of scripture? No. It pertains to the doctrine of "the just shall live by faith" and to Abraham's justification. In justification, there is no Jew or Greek; there is no male or female. Do these apply then to all scripture? Certainly not. It is clear from the Book of Acts and from the Acts Age epistles that the Apostles still made distinctions between both Jewish and Gentile unbelievers and Jewish and Gentile believers. The "One new man" of Ephesians was not yet come it. The hope was still the earthly hope of "the hope of Israel." 

As we have seen elsewhere, does Paul teach two Israels? 

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
-Gal 3:11-14

The context is justification. At the Council in Acts 15 and in the meeting with James in Acts 21 and "as his manner was," Paul and the Apostles made distinctions between Jewish and Gentile unbelievers (in the their respective callings to the circumcised and uncircumcised) and in position to the kingdom and the Law.

One has to ignore Paul's separation of Jews and Gentiles in the Acts and in Romans and in Galatians to pretend the New Covenant was here and applied to all equally. We'd have to accuse the chosen Apostles of God of grave error in going to "Jews only" (Acts 11) or writing to Jews (Peter, James).

The Book of Acts is framed by the risen Lord teaching his enlightened disciples about the "kingdom" for 40 days. They had but one question: "will you, at this time, restore the kingdom to Israel?" Peter in Acts 3 promises "Ye men of Israel" that if they repent the Lord will send back the Lord Jesus Christ unto the restoration of all things. How does this fit the doctrine of the New Covenant being here or the idea of a "spiritual Israel?"

There is an earthly hope for a future believing Israel. The New Covenant, as the prophets clearly state, will involve the land, the kingdom, the promises to Moses. This earthly hope is not yet here. To spiritualize it is to do violence to scripture, to prophecy, and to God's character. It makes all of scripture open to any interpretation and any application.

The author goes on to make an argument about the coming temple in Israel (in the Jerusalem, in the land). He argues it is blasphemy to believe animal sacrifices will once again take place there. So, let me ask the author(and all those who believe they are "spiritual Irael" and that all of scripture is for them: Are you, in this age, sacrificing animals? Are you obeying ALL that is in the Law? If not, why not? Because conditions have changed, right?

There is a word for recognizing the differences in God's plans and commands for different people in different ages: Dispensationalism    

Just for your consideration: