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WHO ARE GOD'S CHOSEN PEOPLE TODAY VS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT?

OLD vs NEW TETAMENTS

– Part Three –

Who has the right to be called a child of God in the New Testament? Do we need to be born into the lineage of Abraham? Can we simply choose to become God's child? Or is it a process of divine selection we have no control over?


THE CHILDREN OF GOD

INTRODUCTION


In this piece (Part Three of our series on the differences between the Old and New Testaments), our discussion will go through the following phases in answer to our questions:

  • Section 1-3: Since sin is what separated us from God and made us captives of Satan, we will first discuss God's plan to free us because it holds the key to who has the possibility of being saved.

  • Section 4: We will then go on to discuss who God actually wants to save.

  • Section 5-7: Finally we will link it all back to the Old Testament, asking: Who are the Gentiles? Did Jesus only come for the Lost sheep of the House of Israel? How should we understand God's eternal promise to Abraham today?


1 - SATAN’S WORK DESTROYED


Jesus came to earth to utterly destroy the works of Satan.


“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” – 1 John 3:8b


Sin was the fruit of Satan’s labour. The fact that all of mankind had followed him into it was the devil's trophy before God.


“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning.” – 1 John 3:8a


Since sin came through Adam, Jesus was the metaphorical ‘second Adam,’ come to restore all that was lost by the first Adam's fall. So Jesus came to undo all that happened as a result of sin and to restore life where death had taken hold.


“For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” – 1 Corinthians 15:21-22


If Jesus came to defeat everything that Satan had achieved, then Jesus had to bring righteousness in all the places there was unrighteousness; justice for injustice, life for death, restoration for hurt and so forth. But how was that victory over Satan gained? Through His death.


“...that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” – Hebrews 2:14b


In order to defeat all that Satan did, Jesus came to atone for every wrong men had ever committed. Jesus had to take on the punishment of every single human being. That way righteousness would be fulfilled, justice would be served and God could restore all things to the "original" untainted state He created. If Jesus had left even one wrong unpaid for, Satan’s works would not have been utterly destroyed.


“He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” – Hebrews 9:26b


“Jesus Christ, the Righteous One... is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.1 John 2:1b-2


To clarify, Jesus did not come to overpower the devil – this He will do with His second coming. Instead, He came to remove the authority of the devil and to take away his claim over mankind. Which is why He says just before His crucifixion:


“now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” – John 12:31


After the cross the work of the devil was undone. We do not yet see the evidence of Satan's defeat around us (not anywhere but in the lives of God's children who are a first-fruit of that work), but his total outward destruction will be made very evident at the end of all things. And God has already placed all things under Jesus' feet:


“You have put all things in subjection under His feet. For in that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we do not yet see all things put under Him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” – Hebrews 2:8-9


But why did Jesus' death overcome Satan or put sin away? Because something else was going on at the same time – God's judgement.


2 - JUDGMENT DAY


Just before His crucifixion Jesus said these words:


“Now is the judgment of this world” – John 12:31


God predestined the crucifixion as the hour of judgement on all the world’s transgressions. Why? Because for the penalty of sin to be paid by Jesus, the penalty first had to be pronounced. So God collected all the sin’s of mankind (stretching over 6000 years and billions of souls), and every sin – past, present and future – was exposed before Him and judged. And His verdict? All men were condemned to die:

“For the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23a


And Satan fell like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18). Therefore Jesus could say that after His resurrection:

“the ruler of this world is judged.” – John 16:8-11


But Satan's sentence is waiting for him when Jesus returns. For now he knows his time is short.


“So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down... Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.’” – Revelation 12:12

But in the very hour of man's judgment before God, Jesus was hanging on a cross outside Jerusalem, offering Himself as the mark of all God’s collective anger. This is the crux of all that was accomplished on the cross.

God’s plan for our salvation then, was to use Jesus’ death as His means to resolve His righteous anger and His collective judgment against men. The full measure of His fury was spent on His Son. He did this so that instead of showing us His wrath, He could show us His glorious mercy instead (see Part Two).

So by one act, God could both condemn Satan and release mankind from his grip.


But having atoned for sin was only half the battle won. Something else was still lacking, death itself had to be defeated.


3 - DEATH OVERCOME


Because of sin, Satan had the right to bring us all to decay and finally death, and hold us there under his power. But Jesus died without ever sinning, so death had no rightful hold over Him. Thus God’s righteousness would not allow Him to be kept there.


“Jesus of Nazareth... whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” – Acts 2:24


In resurrection Jesus defied the chains of death.


“...Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.” – Romans 6:9


And if He was raised to life and lives eternally, then in Him we live as well (as we saw in Part One). Thus He has saved us from the power of death.


“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” – John 11:25


“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” – John 6:47


So Jesus overcame the power of sin – through His death as our atoning sacrifice. And He overcame the power of death – through His resurrection to eternal life. And with sin and death conquered, God's will for mankind could be fulfilled.


“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life.” – John 6:40a

4 - GOD’S DESIRE FOR ALL MEN


Jesus paid the penalty so that all mankind could be released from Satan's grasp. So it should not surprise us that the New Testament teaches that all men can come to salvation in Him. Let's explore 4 different ways the Bible says this, before we go deeper.


  • No 1: The Bible says all mankind (regardless of type) can be saved.

“For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” – 1 Corinthians 15:21-22


By Adam, death came to every human ever born. But the above verse goes on to say that in Jesus all shall be made alive. If ‘all die’ and ‘all will be made alive’ then the word ‘all’ means the same in both cases – every single human. Here are two more examples:


“Therefore, as through one man’s offence judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” – Romans 5:18


“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” – Titus 2:11


Here is what the original Greek meaning of the words ‘all’ and ‘men’ are in the above verses, according to the Strongs ‘biblical dictionary’.


All (Strong’s G3956)

  1. All, any, every, the whole, all manner of means, though-roughly, whatsoever or whosoever, the sum of all types, collectively, all things.

Man (Strongs G444)

  1. A human being, whether male or female – generically, to include all human individuals.

These verses then tell us that any and every type of human individual can be saved in Jesus. As all (every single one) died by Adam's sin. So all (every single one) can be restored in Jesus. Let's look at a second way this is expressed.


  • No 2: The Bible says God desired that the world be saved.

In the next two examples we see that God was reconciling the ‘world’ to Himself through His Son.


“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”John 3:16-17


“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them.” – 2 Corinthians 5:19a


Who are (by the biblical definition of the word) the ‘world’?


World: (Strongs G2889)

  1. The inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family.

  2. The ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ.

So the word refers specifically to the entire sum of fallen men estranged from God. And 'whosoever' of this ungodly gathering should believe in Christ Jesus are offered eternal life.


Whoever (Strong’s G3956)

  1. All, any, every, the whole, all manner of means, though-roughly, whatsoever or whosoever, the sum of all types, collectively, all things.


  • No 3: Believers will come from every tribe, tongue, people and nation.

In the book of Revelation we find this verse:


“Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne... And they sang a new song, saying, “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain and You have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”Revelation 5:7, 9


If heaven will hold believers saved out of every kind of people group and type in the world, who is excluded?


  • No 4: None are unclean.

In the Old Testament the Jews became defiled by contact with the Gentiles. For that reason they considered non-Jews 'unclean'. They were the uncircumcised, outside of God's covenant and therefore outside of God's grace. But when Jesus came that changed.


“God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean... In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.” – Acts 10:28


The original meaning of 'any man' is that no man at all, not anyone of the human race whatsoever, should be called or considered unclean and therefore beyond God's grace any longer.


Any (Strongs G3367)

  1. Nobody, no one, nothing.

Man (Strongs G444)

  1. A human being, whether male or female – generically, to include all human individuals.

We conclude that the Bible teaches that all mankind, without exception, can come to salvation. But let's discuss an objection some make to this.


5 - JEWS vs GENTILES


There are those today who argue that because Jesus said He was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel, that no non-Israelite can receive God's salvation. The New Testament they say is only intended for Abraham's lineage, the Israelites scattered amongst all the nations. They contend that the word ‘Gentile’ means the lost sheep of Israel and when the Bible says all can be saved, it means all the Israelites.

Before we discuss the lost sheep, let's first see what the Bible means by ‘Gentiles’.


In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for ‘Gentile’ is ‘Gowy’. It is used in two ways: First for any nation. So it means a unit or group of people and is translated as ‘nations,’ or ‘people.’ Here is an example:


“These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.” – Genesis 10:32


But in the more specific meaning of ‘Gowy,’ it refers to the foreign nations outside of God's grace – nations who served other ‘gods’ – therefore heathen or gentile. When this specific emphasis is intended the translation reads, ‘Gentiles’ or ‘heathen.’ Here is an example of this:


“But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel.” – 2 Kings 16:3


Clearly the reference intended by ‘Gowy’ is of non-Jewish practices therefore it reads ‘heathen’.


“So shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles where I will drive them.” – Ezekiel 4:13


Israel is swallowed up; now they are among the Gentiles like a vessel in which is no pleasure.” – Hosea 8:8


In the above two verses we see a distinction between Israel (God' people) and the Gentiles (the foreign nations) amongst whom they find themselves. Therefore the Gentiles are not Israel. In fact when we look at the actual definition of ‘Gowy,’ it leaves no doubt that non-Jews are being referred to quite directly:


Gentiles (Strong’s H1471)

  1. A foreign nation not worshipping the true Godhence Gentile.

  2. Gentile, heathen, nation, people.

In the New Testament we find an equivalent Greek word, ‘Ethnos,’ for the Hebrew word ‘Gowy.’ ‘Ethnos’ is also sometimes translated as ‘nations,’ or ‘people’ when used generically of a kind of people (grouped by ethnicity, language, culture, religion, nationality and so forth). But when speaking specifically of non-Jews it reads ‘Gentiles’, or ‘heathens.’


Gentiles (Strong’s G1484)

  1. A multitude associated or living together – a company, troop.

  2. A multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus – the human family.

  3. A tribe, nation or people group.

  4. In the OT, foreign nations not worshipping the true God, pagans, Gentiles.

  5. In the NT, Paul uses the term for Gentile Christians.


Let's look at an example of ‘Ethnos’ in use when Peter first discovered that God shows no distinction between men any longer.


“You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean... In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him... And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.” – Acts 10:28, 34-35, 44-45


The word ‘Ethnos’ appears 3 times in this passage.

  1. First Peter says it is unlawful to keep company with ‘another nation’ (those not of Israel).

  2. Then Peter has realised that God now accepts men of ‘every nation’ (therefore all types of nations included).

  3. Finally Peter says God has given His Holy Spirit to the ‘Gentiles’ (those outside of Israel).

If ‘Gentiles’ did not refer to those outside of Israel, why would the Jews have been so astonished to see it? It was because these men were previously considered unclean, and therefore outside the possibility of God's grace – yet God had shown His grace – which shocked them.


When Peter goes on to recount the story again later, he leaves no doubt that those called ‘Gentiles’ here were not considered children of the promise.


“‘And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning... If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?’... and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.’”Acts 11:15, 17-18

And who was it that God drove out of the promised land before Israel inhabited it?


“Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness... which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David.” – Acts 7:44-45


And who were they that scourged and crucified Jesus?


“Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” – Mark 10:33b-34


It was the heathen, the non-Jewish men of Rome. It was Pontius Pilate and his garrisons of soldiers who scourged and mocked and crucified Jesus. Years later, near the end of Paul's ministry, he testified to a crowd of Jews in Jerusalem that God had called him to the Gentiles. See how they responded:

“Then He (Jesus) said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’  And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, ‘Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!’” – Acts 22:21-22

Would the Jews have responded with the call to kill him, if all Paul had said was Jesus had sent him to the lost sheep of Israel? So why were they so offended? Because he was taking the gospel to unclean Gentiles who worshiped demons.

“the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God” – 1 Corinthians 10:20b


Let's look at one last use of ‘Ethnos’:


“And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, ‘In thee shall all nations be blessed’.” – Galatians 3:8


Again the ‘all’ used here means ‘the sum of all types’. Therefore through Abraham every single type of people will be blessed (both Jews and non-Jews). To confirm this is the meaning, see how our next verse uses the word ‘world’ instead, which we have already shown means, ‘the whole mass of men alienated from God’.

“For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” – Romans 4:13


So why did God's grace suddenly come to the rest of mankind?

Previously, Israel alone was under grace, because only they held faith in the coming Messiah through the Passover sacrifice and the law. So God accepted them under the grace that was to come in Jesus Christ (as we saw in Part One). The Gentiles were not under the same covering, therefore they were without hope. But after Jesus came, the penalty of all men's sin was paid. Because of that, the concessions of the law were no longer a benefit to the Israelites. Jesus had purchased the right for every sinner to be accepted by God in Him. Therefore there is no longer any distinction between men. All have sinned and all sins have been atoned for, so all can be made righteous.


“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus... Where is boasting then? It is excluded... Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.” – Romans 3:23-24, 27a, 29-30


Whether Jews (the circumcised - those of the promise of Abraham) or Gentiles (the uncircumcised - those outside of Israel's promise), we are all sinners. That makes us all unworthy of God. None of us is deserving of eternal life. The fact is that in times passed, God showed His mercy on the Israelites more than on the rest of the human race. But we make a mistake to assume that His mercy on them reveals some extra worthiness on their part. It does not.

“What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.” – Romans 3:9


It is still faith in Jesus Christ that saves us all. Everything we have – our lineage, our race, our intelligence – all was God's gift to us. How can we then expect a greater reward from Him because of it? How can we boast about what was none of our doing?


“For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” – 1 Corinthians 4:7


Let us now look at the Biblical distinction between the ‘Gentiles’ and the ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel’.


6 - THE LOST SHEEP OF ISRAEL


Jesus said the following words:


“I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” – Matthew 15:24


When Jesus sent out the twelve He said the same thing again. He told His disciples to stay away from the Gentiles and go rather to the house of Israel.


“These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” – Matthew 10:5-6


It now becomes abundantly clear that the ‘Gentiles’ are not ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ at all. The lost sheep of Israel are a group of men entirely other than the Gentiles.


But only a short while later, Jesus says something quite different. When He commissions His disciples right before His ascension, He says to go to all the nations and make disciples of them.

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” – Matthew 28:18-19a


So one moment Jesus says to His disciples “Do not to go to the ‘Ethnos’, I was not sent to them. Rather, go only to the lost sheep of Israel”. Then Jesus says the opposite, He tells them to, “Go to all the ‘Ethnos’ (none are excluded), and make disciples of them all.”


So what has changed here?

The first command is given prior to Jesus death and resurrection. At that time, grace is still only extended to Israel under the old covenant. Jesus is their promised Messiah come to fulfil all that was written of Him.

But the second command is given after Jesus has atoned for all mankind's sins and He has been resurrected. Therefore the dispensation has already changed. Now, through Jesus atoning death and resurrection, all men can come to God.


Paul explains how this new dispensation of grace to the Gentiles was a mystery which God revealed to the apostles of the New Testament.


“the dispensation of the grace of God... the mystery of Christ which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles... that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ.” – Ephesians 3:2b,6


But Jesus always knew that day would come, therefore He prophesied before His death that after His resurrection He would draw all mankind.

“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”John 12:32


Again He shows He was sent to bring in more than the lost sheep of Israel.


I am the good shepherd... And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”John 10:14, 15b-16


Jesus says He will bring in sheep of a completely different fold and make one flock of the two. Let's hear how Paul describes this:


“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” – Ephesians 2:11-19


So Paul says that those who were Gentiles, and not of the circumcision, not of the ‘commonwealth of Israel’, not under the covenant of God's promise, not under the law and without any form of hope – have been brought near to God by Jesus' blood. There can be no question then that those brought in by Jesus, those called ‘Gentiles’ are anything but the house of Israel.


Jesus then was sent first to the house of Israel, but after His resurrection, He also called the lost world of all mankind back to God. To the Jews, He has become the fulfilment of all God's promises. To the Gentiles, He has become a brand new and glorious hope.


Here is an interesting example where a Greek woman (clearly not an Israelite), came to Jesus. Look what He said to her.

“The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, ‘Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs.’” – Mark 7:26-27


Jesus goes on to heal the woman's daughter. But note how He says He was sent first to Israel, that they be filled. If Israel was first, the implication is that someone other than Israel follows. Paul echoes the thought, and tells us it is the Greeks who follow:


“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” – Romans 1:16


Greek: (Strongs G1672)

  1. A Greek by nationality.

  2. In a wider sense the name embraces all nations not Jews that made the language, customs, and learning of the Greeks their own; the primary reference is to a difference of religion and worship.

The non-Jews referred to here are called ‘Greeks’ instead of ‘Gentiles’, since the vast majority of the Gentiles of the day were Greeks. But since all are made one in Jesus, none of these distinctions means anything any longer:


“there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” – Colossians 3:11


Therefore we conclude that the entire human race, whether Jew or Gentile, lost sheep or found, all can be saved through the atoning blood of Christ Jesus, shed once for all – just as the Bible says time and time again.


“By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” – Hebrews 10:10


But there is one more question which needs to be answered. How can we find common ground between God's eternal promise of salvation to Abraham's seed, with all we have just said?


7 - ABRAHAM'S SEED


We will use a lengthy quote from Romans to explore our answer. At first glance this passage seems to suggest that some men are predestined for destruction, and there is simply nothing they can do about it.


“What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy... You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?’ But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honour and another for dishonour?” – Romans 9:14-16, 19-21


Paul here is expressing the sovereignty of God. The fact is that God has power over all and answers to no one. God has no obligation to show mercy to anyone. All the mercy He extends to us is His gift and not our right. We dare not, at any time, be arrogant enough to think God is unrighteous if He dooms sinners to the fate they deserve and justice demands.

So yes, it is true, if God wanted to He could choose to make us for destruction. Paul's argument does not say that God has made us for that – only that we have no right to judge Him if He did.


To understand Paul's actual point here, we have to go back a few verses. Then we discover that he is making an argument against those Israelites who consider salvation their right – a position they feel entitled to because of the Abrahamic covenant.

Paul is saying that God's mercy is His sovereign right alone. For though all God's goodness was accounted to the Jews (under the old covenant), some of them have thrown it all away by rejecting Jesus Christ (who is the new covenant).


“I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises...” – Romans 9:2-4


Yet Paul shows how, despite their imagined slight, God is still faithful to His word of promise to Abraham:


“But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham... those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.”Romans 9:6-8


Counted (Strongs G3049)

  1. To reckon as - to impute.

  2. To number among.

  3. To determine, purpose, decide.

The promise of Abraham goes on still, but no longer through the birthright of the genealogy of Abraham, as in the Old Testament. Instead the promise now travels through those 'counted as seed'. Who are counted as seed? Those who share the nature of the father, not the flesh of the father. Therefore God says:


“I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved.” – Romans 9:25


See here how Jesus explains the difference:

I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father... the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” – John 8:37-38, 44


“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.” – Matthew 21:43


Jesus is saying that those who will take on the heart of God are His children, and those who seek the desires of Satan are not. John the Baptist echoed Jesus' words.


“But when he (John the Baptist) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.’” – Matthew 3:7-9


“many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness” – Matthew 8:11-12b


Back to the context of Paul's story then: The Israelites, having been born into the promise of God are grumbling that their position of favour can be lost while the Gentiles (those unclean heathens), find salvation – in their God no less!

Paul's reply is that God alone has the right to determine who are His and who are not.

And in the New Testament God has determine, by His sovereign will, that any man who receives His Son will be reckoned seed, and any man that does not, will not. That includes the Israelites, and all other men besides.


“What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.” – Romans 9:30-32


“The law is not of faith” – Galatians 3:12a.


So it is no longer through the lineage of Israel. Nor is it through keeping the law or the circumcision that we come to salvation.


“if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing... You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace... For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.” – Galatians 5:2b, 4, 6


Again, when some suggested that the apostles should teach the Gentiles that, “it is necessary to be circumcised, and to keep the law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5), how did Peter respond?

why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” – Acts 15:10-11


It is by God's grace then that we who are not of the house of Israel, can become seed.


“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ.” – Galatians 3:16


Therefore, if we are in Christ, then all that is His is accounted to us. He is the seed so we can all become seed of the promise in Him.


“that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” – Galatians 3:14


By God's sovereign will, His grace has come to all men through His Son. We are made seed not through lineage but through faith.


“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” – Galatians 3:28-29


“Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” – Galatians 3:7


“For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” – Romans 4:13


We conclude then that since salvation comes to all men by faith, our genealogy is no longer of profit to us, and continual debates on lineage are therefore futile.


“But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless” – Titus 3:9


“nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.” – 1 Timothy 1:4


CONCLUSION

God’s intention was always that all His children (in both testaments), should be perfected together, by the same means, all as one body, through one mediator, to one God.


“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” – 1 Timothy 2:5-6


“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6


So we conclude then that God has chosen to show mercy to us all – without exception. No one is excluded, not any race, gender, age or nationality. Not the Jew or the Gentile, the rich or the poor, the worst of sinners or the best of men is excluded. Only this one thing is required, that we believe in Jesus Christ, the risen and living Son of God, who came in the flesh to pay the death penalty of our sins, and now sits at the right hand of God preparing us a home. And that in believing, we receive His word as our truth, and wait eagerly for His appearing.


We will close by offering a few more verses which echo the truth that salvation has come to any who come to Christ Jesus. The underlined words are ones we have defined in the course of this piece.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.’” – Mark 16:15-16


whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” – Romans 10:13

“it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”Luke 24:46b-47


“God our Saviour... desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:3b-4


“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” – 2 Corinthians 5:19a


“The Lord is... not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9


“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh... That whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” – Act 2:17a, 21

NEXT UP – PART 4

The Kingdom of God

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In the next part, we discuss the spiritual implications of the cross and how that affects God's children in the New Testament. In the last part we will look at the new application of old principals like tithing, warfare, keeping the sabbath day, self-defence, being separated unto God and so forth.