Is The Church Israel?

   by Jeannette Haley

There is a growing belief throughout the church world today (especially within Pentecostal circles) that the church is the “new” Israel. This belief is called “Replacement Theology” because the Church is seen to replace Israel in God’s economy.

Replacement Theology is another end-times “doctrine of demons” that has been subtly integrated into the warp and woof of the Latter Rain/Manifest Sons of God beliefs and teachings. It goes like this: All of the wonderful promises made to Israel in the Word of God find their fulfillment in the Church. Therefore, those prophecies that promise blessings and restoration of Israel to the Promised Land are conveniently “spiritualized” to mean promises of blessing to the Church. Of course, those prophecies that speak of condemnation and judgment are literally retained by the Jewish nation of Israel.

Any thinking person, however, would have to stop and ask if this is true, then why does the nation of Israel still exist? After all, the Church was established around 2,000 years ago, but in spite of horrendous odds, the new modern state of Israel does exist. Also, how does one explain Israel’s resurgence among the family of nations as an independent nation, victorious in several wars and flourishing economically?

The Church and Israel are different and distinct from each other as clearly taught in the New Testament. Throughout most of Church history, however, this fact has been suppressed. It is by divine application that the Church enters into the Abrahamic and New Covenants. Jesus said in Matthew 26:28, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

All of the covenants, promises and warnings to Israel are intact. God has carefully preserved the Jewish people through 1,900 years of dispersion. He has also kept His promise to save a remnant of Israel in every generation. In this age the Jewish believers in Christ who have joined the Gentile believers form the Body of Christ, the Church. Romans 11:5 tells us, “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. But this gathering of a part of Israel (the believing remnant) and the Church during the Church Age does not make Israel the Church or vice versa.

One-third of the Jewish people who survive the Tribulation will be saved. Then the Lord will establish His kingdom on the earth and rule and reign from His capital, Jerusalem. Israel (not the Church) will be the head of the nations. Every nation will send representatives to Jerusalem to honor and worship the King of kings and Lord of lords. We read in Isaiah 2:2, 3 these beautiful words, “And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Micah 4:1 says, But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow into it.”

If the nation of Israel has been forgotten in God’s plan, why did Jesus promise His disciples that they would rule over the 12 tribes of Israel when He returned to restore all things, Matthew 19:28?

The early Church struggled over their relationship with Israel and with the doctrines of law and grace. Fellowship between Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ was also an issue that Paul confronted when he wrote Galatians. In this epistle we get a glimpse of the Jewish believers’ attitudes toward Gentile Christians regarding the Mosaic Law. In Romans we see the opposite attitude in that the Gentiles resented the place of Israel in history and theology. Paul warned them not to “boast against the branches” Romans 11:18.

After the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans in 70 AD, people began to believe that the Jewish nation would never be re-instituted as a national entity. After all, Jerusalem lay in ruins and the Jewish people were scattered over the world. They believed this was conclusive evidence that God had punished this nation and that He was forever finished with national Israel.

The problem, however, for those who wish to replace Israel with the Church, has always been the abundant promises of God to Israel throughout the Old Testament. Therefore, theologians had to cleverly add a new twist and propose that Israel in the Scriptures did not really mean Israel, especially when it came to God’s promises of eternal blessings. They put forth the idea that Israel meant something else and that something else came to be known in the New Testament as the Church. Presto! The Church became the new Israel, and through this remarkable transformation, the Church could now lay claim to all of God’s wonderful promises to Israel. This is the core of Replacement Theology.

To quote Thomas S. McCall, Th.D., “Replacement Theology was already around before the end of the First Century, but did not become the official position of professing Christian leadership until Augustine popularized the concept. Primarily in THE CITY OF GOD, in the latter part of the Fourth Century. Augustine actually states that he was previously a Chiliast, meaning that he was a believer in the thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth after His return. This is the same as our current description of Premillennialism. However, he had come to the conclusion that this view was carnal,” and had adopted the view that the reign of Christ would be something more spiritual,” and would actually occur during the Church Age. Such a view necessitated the extinction of Israel, and the cancellation of all promises God made to the Jewish nation. These promises of blessing would now be fulfilled within the framework of the Church.”

This view, which had been latent in Christendom, now flourished throughout the Byzantine world. From this point on, the theological legs were cut out from under Israel, and the predominant Christian theology was that there was no future for Israel. Replacement Theology has been the rule that has survived the Middle Ages, the Crusades and the Reformation in Church History. Only during the last century or so has the Premillennial concept of the future of Israel come to the forefront in evangelical Christianity. Even so, it is a minority view.”

Arnold Fruchtenbaum states, “The New Testament consistently differentiates between Israel and the Church. The term Israel is viewed theologically as referring to all descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, also known as Jews, the Jewish people, Israelites, Hebrews, etc. Fruchtenbaum notes that national election distinguishes Israel from those peoples who were not chosen that we know as Gentiles and he outlines four reasons for Israel’s election: 1) they were “chosen on the basis of God’s love…to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex. 19:6)…to represent the Gentile nations before God.” 2) “God chose Israel to be the recipient of His revelation and to record it (Deut. 4:5-8; 6:6-9; Rom. 3:1-2).” 3) Israel “was to propagate the doctrine of the One God (Deut. 6:4).” 4) Israel “was to produce the Messiah (Rom. 9:5; Heb. 2:16-17; 7:13-14).”

Some distinctions to remember are that the Church was born at Pentecost, whereas Israel had existed for many centuries. (See Matt. 16:18). Remember that the Church born at Pentecost is called the “Body of Christ” (Col. 1:18), and entrance into the body is through “Spirit baptism” (1 Cor. 12:13), in which Jew and Gentile are united through the Church. Acts 1:5 views Spirit baptism as future, while Acts 10 links it to the past, specifically to Pentecost. In the book of Acts the term Israel is used 29 times and ekklesia (Church) 19 times, yet the two groups are always kept distinct.

Replacement Theology tries to tell us that because Gentile believers are described as the “seed of Abraham” (Gal. 3:29) this means that the Church is Israel. What Paul is saying here simply means that they participate in the spiritual (salvation) blessings that come through Israel (Rom. 15:27; 1 Cor. 9:11 14). As Fruchtenbaum stated, “Those who are the spiritual seed are partakers of Jewish spiritual blessings but are never said to become partakers of the physical, material, or national promises.”

Replacement Theology is a misguided systematic approach to the Bible that has not only led millions of Christians astray over the years but it has, in addition, birthed evil of the most horrific proportions. Replacement Theology played a role in the persecution of Jews by the Church through the centuries, including the Holocaust.” (quote by Malcolm Hedding)

Christians need to open their ears to their LORD and close their ears to the heretical pied pipers of today whom they love to follow. Replacement Theology is a vicious and satanic lie. It undermines the character of God; after all, if God will not or cannot keep His promises to Israel, how can the Church be assured He will keep His promises to it?

God’s covenant with Israel is unconditional and non-transferable. His covenants and promises were never based on Israel’s good behavior but were based on God’s faithfulness toward His people. Yes, the Jewish people have suffered the consequences of breaking God’s Laws, just as all do, but they have not been replaced or rejected. The Jews remain forever as the only witness to the one true God. The Word of God has made this fact abundantly clear. (Isa. 41:8,9; Jer. 31:3, 35, 36; Hosea 11:8, 9; 1 Chron. 16:13-17; Deut. 32:9; Psalm 22:28; 105:8-10; 147:19, 20; 94:14; Rom. 11:1, 20, 21; Eph. 2:12, 19; Gal. 3:17, 18.)

Beloved, let us not be filled with envy and wrath as was the elder brother in the story of the Prodigal Son. For when Israel returns to the LORD, and is saved in one day, we will rule and reign with Jesus in His earthly kingdom. We will have our place just as He promised!

Be not deceived by those who would tell you that through “repentance” and “keeping the Law” you will become part of the commonwealth of Israel and inherit the promises made to Israel. Do not believe the perverted doctrine that preaches that the Church shall establish the Kingdom on earth, “overcoming” Jesus’ enemies in these latter days through the elite “Elijah Company” and “Joel’s Army”. Flee when you are asked to buy the lie that a great, worldwide revival is nearly upon us that will usher in the “fourth reformation” ruled over by the “apostles” and “prophets”. These are they, which Jesus repeatedly warned us about, calling them “false prophets” and “false Christs” who proclaim that He has secretly returned [in them].

Be warned. The god of this world is working this very hour within countless organizations, groups and political movements that, although seemingly opposed to one another on the surface, nevertheless belong to a common denominator. A careful study reveals that the origins, secret workings, goals and power of the Illuminati, Freemasons, Mormons, (and many other cults), the Manifest Sons of God and New Agers are all branches of the same satanic tree.

God’s commandment still stands, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the LORD, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the LORD Almighty.

(Resources: Israel and the Church: The Differences by Thomas S. McCall, Th.D.; Israel/Church Distinction: The 4th Foundation by Thomas Ice)