Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Rayola Kelley

Q:You make reference towards the fact that Christians are not considered real Jews. This subject has confused me because of what Romans 2:29 states. Would you please explain your stand on this matter.A: Romans 2:29 implies there are two types of Jews. The first Jews are those who can be biologically traced back to Abraham. These Jews are referred to as the children of the flesh in Romans 9:6-8. These people were physically set apart by physical circumcision and were subject to a covenant made up of laws, rituals and feasts which mainly required an outward conformity or piousness. These Jews have been promised an earthly inheritance by many of the Old Testament prophets. Many of these prophesies are yet to be fulfilled.

The biological Jews comprise a nation called Israel. This nation is earthly in nature and for centuries has looked forward to not only the restoration of their physical nation which happened in 1948, but the rule and reign of their Promised King or Messiah. In fact, in their mind the total restoration of the nation of Israel hinges on the establishment of their religious practices and are they making moves towards it right now in Jerusalem.

Although hotly debated, the biological descendents of Israel have kept their true identity. The hatred of Satan, the world and many of the world’s different religions have actually assisted in maintaining the identity of these persecuted people. Almost all of these biological Jews can prove they came from one of the 12 sons of Israel, showing that their biological origin indeed goes back to Abraham. Of course, if you are a real Jew, it means you look forward to the fulfillment of many more promises of God concerning an earthly inheritance.

Biological Jews have a rich heritage and an incredible inheritance but it means nothing outside of their Messiah. John the Baptist summarized it best: “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abrahm to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able to these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”

The second type of Jew is what I refer to as the spiritual Jew. These are those who are spiritually born from above (John 3:3-5). The spiritual Jew’s roots are not traced back to the 12 biological sons of Israel but to one person, a Jewish carpenter by the name of Jesus Christ. It is through faith in Jesus as the Son of God, God Incarnate, that the spiritual Jew becomes identified with Abraham:“For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness”(Romans 4:2-3). Spiritual Jews simply believe God about the identity of Jesus Christ and the redemption He has wrought on the cross.

Spiritual Jews are set apart by an inward circumcision of the heart. This circumcision is not done by a physical knife but by the Spirit of God. This spiritual cutting away results in transformation, implying new life is coming forth with the power to obey God in spirit and truth (Romans 12:1-2).

The heritage the spiritual Jews share with the biological Jews is strictly found in Jesus. Granted, the law, feasts and rituals all pointed to Jesus along with many images that symbolized Him; and for this I am thankful. But this is the point, all of these things are just images that can’t save; therefore, anything outside of Jesus serves as nothing more than a weak element or a substitute. It is because of Jesus that spiritual Jews have a heavenly inheritance that inspires a hope that has the capacity to embrace eternity (Ephesians 1:7-20). And like Abraham, these believers do not look for an earthly kingdom but for a city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10).

The covenant that the spiritual Jews enjoy is not secured by religious works and compliance to laws or rituals but by faith in the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 9-10). This new covenant makes these Jews children of God, giving them the right to enter into the very throne room of God, something that was not allotted to the biological Jews except the High Priest once a year (John 1:12; Hebrews 4:14-16).

These spiritual Jews are officially called Christians. They get their name and identification from the Son of God, Jesus Christ and not from Israel, the grandson of Abraham. The term Jew is only used once in reference to Christians and that was to bring a spiritual contrast, while the term saint is used often to identify believers throughout scripture.

Spiritual Jews (saints) comprise a heavenly body that make up Jesus’ kingdom which is referred to as the church (Ephesians 1:19-23 & Colossians 1:15-19). This church is made of up both biological Jews and Gentile believers. This entity solely finds its life and substance in the vine, Jesus Christ. I must state that nowhere in Scripture does the church ever become Israel. After all, Israel existed centuries before the church entered upon the scene. In fact, Paul makes a distinction between these two entities in Romans 9 and 11. He talked about how God sent a spirit of slumber upon Israel so that full salvation could come to the Gentiles. This was to actually provoke Israel to jealousy (Romans 11:8-11).

Israel is looking forward to the time its Messiah will reign as her king. The church on the other hand, looks back to a time when its King and Lord came and secured salvation for each of its members on a cross. As this body of believers look back, they are reminded of a future time when Jesus will come back in the clouds for His church to usher in the time when they will actually rule and reign with Him in glory (1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 1 Thessalonians. 4:13-18; 2 Timothy. 2:11-13; Revelation 20:4).

As I listen to the different debates going on in the church about whether the spiritual Jews are the actual Jews, the Commonwealth of Israel or about the need to get back to our Jewish roots by observing the Sabbath, feasts, laws, etc. I realize how frightening such prospects are.

According to Scripture, Israel, in her excitement and expectation about embracing her Messiah, will actually end up accepting a false Messiah, known as the anti-Christ. If this is true for the real Israel what about those in the church who insist on being called Jews or Israel? Apparently their roots do not securely rest in Jesus, implying He is not enough for them. Therefore, how prone are such people to accept the same counterfeit that Israel will embrace? Sobering thought!

Hennrietta Mears summarized it best in her book WHAT THE BIBLE IS ALL ABOUT. She said:“Two mountain peaks stand in contrast to each other in God’s Word. 1) Mount Sinai with all of its horror thundered forth the law (Exodus 19). 2) Opposite this God places Calvary. Calvary took away all the fire and thunder and made possible a meeting place between God and the sinner. We each have a choice about how we shall approach God, either by law or by blood (Hebrews 12:18-29).”

As for me there is only one choice, Calvary and the blood of Jesus. How about you?