Discerning Differences Between Israel and The Body of Christ
It’s no surprise to anybody who reads the Bible that Biblical illiterates like Stevie Anderson (who wouldn’t even get a mention if not for Laodicean Christians constantly plugged in to YouTube) are getting attention for their anti-dispensational, pretribulation rapture-rejecting views. Simon Peter warned Christians (II Pet. 1:1) of “scoffers” in the last days who would question “the promise of His coming,” while making no distinctions in the way God has done things from the “beginning of creation” (II Pet. 3:4). Calvinistic amillennialists, postmillennialists, the mid-trib/post-trib/pre-wrath rapturists, and anybody else who rejects the rapture of the church as it is presented in scripture all have a problem with discernment. They can’t, or rather refuse to, see differences between certain things. The glaring example of this is their refusal to regard the differences between the catching away of the body of Christ (I Thess. 4:15-18; I Cor. 15:51-52; Php. 3:20, 21; I Thess. 5:4-9) and the return of Jesus Christ to set up His Kingdom (Rev. 19; Zech. 14). But this is not their first error; their first error is with regard to Israel and the body of Christ.
The gross mistake most of the pretribulation rapture-rejecters make is to deny the differences between Israel and the body of Christ, while the Bible makes a crystal-clear difference between them – “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:” (I Cor. 10:32). It is true that all saved people are “one” in Christ; but outside of Christ in the national and racial sense there is still a difference made (Acts 9:15). In Romans 9:1-4, Paul states that he’s a Jew “according to the flesh,” even after he’s saved (see also Gal. 2:15). He even refers to the “Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16 – that’ll be saved Jews who are specifically walking according the rule Paul laid out with regard to circumcision, and not a reference to the entire body of Christ (look at the context in v12-15). The body of born-again believers is never referred to as “Israel.” Not ONCE. And if you go to Ephesians 2:12 and try to pretend that saved people in the body of Christ are the "true Israel" because they belong to the “commonwealth,” you’re going to get yourself in a flat-footed mess. Here’s why.
First of all, and by way of example, Canada was formerly a British commonwealth; but that didn’t make the Canadians who lived during that period to be “Brits.”
Christians owe their existence to Israel. Every spiritual gift and promise we have as Christians came to us by way of the PHYSICAL Nation of Israel, and our Jewish Saviour, Who was the Son of David (king of Israel), and Who said “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). “The oracles [words] of God are given to the Jews” (Acts 7:38; Rom. 3:2), by which we got our Bible; and we are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, who were Jews (Eph. 2:19-20).
The church is part of the “household of God,” along with Israel, but they are NEVER the same.
Secondly, did you notice the saved, born-again, Gentile Ephesian believers Paul writes to were “without Christ,” “aliens,” “strangers,” “having no hope, and without God in the world”, and “afar off” (v12-13), until they could be “made nigh BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST,” and be “sealed” after they “heard,” “believed,” and “trusted” the word of truth, the gospel? This type of language and description is never used when referring to the Jews, saved or lost, in either Testament. Whether obedient, believing Jews or disobedient, unbelieving Jews, the Jews are still the Jews and are God’s chosen people as a NATION. (Some folks have a fit because they can’t or won’t DISCERN the difference between God’s dealings with individuals and God’s dealings with nations—but that’s the key to this.)
Christ had no body to be “in” before Matthew 1. He was “the Word” in eternity past, and nobody was “in Christ” before Christ’s body was OFFERED (apologies to John Calvin). Observe Eph. 2:14-16 – “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; (15) Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; (16) And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body BY THE CROSS, having slain the enmity thereby”.
The individual sinner (Jew or Gentile) could not be reconciled to God and placed in Christ’s body until a point in time – the cross. Thus there were no Christians, and no body of Christ available to be populated before the cross. Now, considering these things, how on earth can the body of Christ be the same as Israel? If anyone cares to DISCERN, the word “Christian” doesn’t even appear in the Bible until Acts 11:26.
When you confuse or confound the body of Christ with Israel, you have created an enormous, irreparable, gaping hole in your theology, which requires that 80% of the Bible be “spiritualized” or rendered otherwise symbolic to account for the inconsistencies. In other words, when you make Israel the church, or the church Israel, you have to throw out any sane, literal, simple reading of the scriptures in order to make your theology work. You have to CHANGE the words of the Bible, for they no longer “mean what they say, and say what they mean.” This type of scripture perversion is done mentally, rather than by getting an editorial board together and physically perverting the Book so you can come out with a new Bible version. The result, however, is the same: an unreliable Bible which, incidentally, can only be “interpreted” by those educated in the particular theological system being promoted.
And what has this to do with the pretribulation rapture? Just everything. The theme and context of the 2nd Advent is the physical deliverance of the remnant of the NATION of Israel from being wiped out by the Antichrist; the judgment of the Beast and all that follow him; followed by the setting up of Christ’s earthly kingdom on Mt. Zion (Jerusalem) for a thousand years. The catching away of born-again believers that Paul describes in his epistles includes exactly NONE of those elements. It is only by forcing the nation of Israel to represent the body of Christ that you can pretend the rapture of the church and the 2nd Advent of Christ are the same. Even then, it’s a ridiculous stretch that requires ignoring the differences between somebody leaving this earth, and Somebody coming down and landing on this earth. The Bible interprets Itself. What the Holy Ghost teaches can only be understood by comparing scripture with scripture (a Biblical formula – I Cor. 2:13; John 6:63). For this reason, we do not change the Bible to conform to our pet theology, but rather we change our theology to make it fit the Bible. Any theological system can find “Biblical support” from verses which seem to back it up (using the inductive method – claim a theory to be true, then look in the Bible for evidence), but unless it checks with the ENTIRETY of scripture, it cannot be viewed as legitimate; it’s private interpretation.
Anybody can invent an ideology and then go to the Bible to promote it. If I took the notion, I could go to the Bible and justify armed robbery as something God approves of and blesses – Job 12:6; Psa. 73:3-12. Ten verses in the blink of an eye. The point is, just because a thing seems to have scriptural support does not mean it’s legitimate. Furthermore, finding a group of verses that agree with your teaching does not validate your teaching, for that group of verses must be interpreted in the light of yet other verses of scripture, or you STILL have a private interpretation. The back and forth between Satan and Jesus Christ when the latter was being tempted in Matthew 4 proves that certain verses supersede or “trump” other verses (depending on the context), even while all the verses individually remain correct. The Bible has to approve of particular verses or groupings of verses, not our own intellect.
Discernment is exercised by a faithfulness to the text of scripture. Forget about pre-conceived ideas—ideas gotten from your imagination, or gotten when you may have been misled or misinformed by a source from outside the pages of the scriptures. Let the Book say what It means, and mean what It says; and if you don’t understand it, don't force it by stretching and twisting and imagining things. Just BELIEVE THE BOOK AS IT STANDS. God gives light and understanding only after faith and belief in His words have been exercised, and not a second before. If God says “Israel,” He means “Israel.” If He says “church,” He means “church.” God knows how to spell!
[This is not a thorough treatment of the differences between Israel and the church. Just some food for thought on the subject. The reader is encouraged to go through the Bible with the approach discussed in this essay, and prove these things for himself—I Thess. 5:21.]