Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: IV. The Church and Biblical Zionism

Monday, March 19, 2018

IV. The Church and Biblical Zionism

Chapter Seven
IV. The Church and Biblical Zionism
There is much talk about grace these days.  Unfortunately, most of it distorts what the Bible teaches.  Grace is God’s undeserved supernatural enabling to the faithful, yielded believer to live the Christ-life.  Therefore, with that supernatural enabling comes accountability and culpability for its use – “stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10).  Faithful stewardship of grace results in Kingdom rewards.

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore {application} shall break {luo loo'-o; literally loosen; the idea is to teach a more relaxed, broader, more liberal interpretation} one of these least {in size or importance; i.e.; seemingly insignificant} commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees {Jesus is referring to the imparted righteous in the indwelling Spirit, or salvation by grace, and the practical righteousness produced through the infilling of the Spirit, or sanctification by grace}, ye shall in no case {double negative in Greek text; not at all or not by any means} enter into the kingdom of heaven {this is not referring to the final eternal state of existence, but is referring to the Kingdom Age because God-kind righteousness is required; i.e., justification ‘by grace through faith’}” (Matthew 5:17-20).

What decisions do we need to make and keep regarding Jesus’ statements about rewards? 

1. Salvation is a gift, but rewards are earned for faithful service in the “work of the ministry.
2. God has not lowered or lessened His standard of righteousness.  In fact, He has redefined His expectations to living His communicable attributes.
3. We have already been given everything we need to live the Christ-life in the Person of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.
4. The believer will ONLY be rewarded for the “fruit” produced through the supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit (Grace).
5. We are individual stewards of this supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit (Grace); meaning we will be held accountable for how we use it and for the “fruit” God desires to produce through our lives.
6. Our positions in the Kingdom Age will be determined by the degree of our faithfulness to the stewardship of Grace.  This is what the parable of the “talents” details in Matthew 25:14-30.  Some will live in glorified bodies throughout the Kingdom Age but live in disgrace and shame because they were irresponsible “stewards of grace.”
7. The believer must decide each day, and each moment of each day, to allow Christ to live through us; completely and totally yielded to doing God’s will in every moment of life to win souls and make disciples to the glory of God.

          Paul’s next reference to an Old Testament prophecy in his statement in Romans 9:27-28 is Isaiah 10:20-23; “27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: 28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth” (Romans 9:27-28). 

          Genuine repentance is the necessary precedent to all true and genuine revival.  Repentance is a change of mind, attitude, and heart about two things:

1. What constitutes sin in the eyes of God?
2. What constitutes holiness in the eyes of God?

          Repentance is the desire to abandon all that constitutes sin in the eyes of God and pursue all that constitutes holiness in the eyes of God.  The degree to which a person has repented is measured by the passion a person has and the effort he exerts to abandon all that constitutes sin in the eyes of God and pursue all that constitutes holiness in the eyes of God.  The person with this passion to abandon all that constitutes sin in the eyes of God and pursue all that constitutes holiness in the eyes of God diligently and passionately searches the Scriptures to know the will of God in the matters of sin and holiness. 

     David speaks of God’s common intimate omniscient knowledge of every aspect of a person’s life in Psalm 139.  He concludes the Psalm by expressing his will to God for the greatest level of intimacy possible; “23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  These words reflect the character of a genuinely repentant heart because the words reflect a genuine desire for change.  The repentant heart is the heart of the genuinely spiritually revived person. 

          Again, a Complimentary Hermeneutic must be applied in understanding Isaiah 10:20-23 and Romans 9:27-28.  Paul is providing new revelation in Romans 9:27-28 regarding the interpretation of Isaiah 10:20-23.  Isaiah 10:21 and 22 says, “the remnant shall return” and “a remnant of them shall return.”  In Romans 9:27 Paul says, “a remnant shall be saved” and applies this to saved Jews and Gentiles of the Church Age. 

     Although there was a great harvest of Jews in the early years of Christianity after the Day of Pentecost recorded in Acts chapter two, there will be another great harvest of Jews during the seven-year Tribulation.  The saved Jews that survive the Tribulation will enter the Kingdom Age in physical bodies to marry and produce children.  The saved Jews that are martyred from the Tribulation will be resurrected and glorified at the second coming of Jesus (Revelation 20:4-6).  These glorified resurrected martyrs will reign with Christ and the church age believers throughout the Kingdom Age as priests of God (Revelation 20:6).

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is {completes} the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6).

On the Day of Pentecost, a new host of Messengers of Grace were saved, baptized with the Holy Spirit into the “body of Christ,” indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and sent into all the world to preach the wonderful Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This was the formation of a new Priesthood of all believers, “born again” of the Spirit of God, and sent forth as Ambassadors of Jesus Christ, as Ministers of Reconciliation, and given the “words of reconciliation.”

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature {Gal. 6:15}: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become {perfect tense} new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us {Church Age believers} to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us {Church Age believers} the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us {Church Age believers} the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: {the following words define the Ambassadorship of all believers “in Christ” and their appeal to salvation “by grace through faith” to the lost of the whole world, not just the Jews} we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God {the Ambassadorship extends beyond helping people understand the Gospel and respond in faith to teaching them to ‘observe’ the teachings of Jesus}. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him {progressive transfiguration to Christlikeness; Romans 12:1-2}” (II Corinthians 5:17-21).

          Because so many professing Christians misunderstand the Biblical continuity within the Abrahamic Covenant, they lack the understanding of the overwhelming nature of the beginning of the transition within the Abrahamic Covenant in the setting aside of the Mosaic Covenant and the beginning of the unfolding (already, not yet) of the New Covenant “in Christ.”  Because many professing Christians do not understand this transition, they do not understand their stewardship within the Age of Grace and exactly for what God will hold Church Age believers accountable. 

          Prior to the Day of Pentecost, the physical descendants of Abraham were God’s chosen people through which the Seed (Messiah; i.e. JEHOVAH incarnate) would be born into humanity (the “last Adam” and the “Firstborn” of the New Genesis). 

          Paul tells us in Galatians 3:16 that the “seed” of Genesis 22:18 does not refer to the many physical descendants of Abraham, but to One Individual; the Christ of God that we know as Jesus.  When we read the Messianic Psalm 72, we should understand that every Jew should have known that the Messiah was the Seed to which God refers in the Abrahamic Covenant.  Paul tells us in very specific words in Galatians 3:16 that this is God’s intent.

“His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed” (Psalm 72:17).

11 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. 15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. 16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made {plural; refers to the Palestinian and Davidic Covenants as part of the Abrahamic Covenant}. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after {the Abrahamic Covenant}, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise {the Abrahamic Covenant of salvation gifted by grace through faith} of none effect. 18 For if the inheritance {Kingdom Age promises to national Israel} be of the law, it is no more of promise {gifted by grace through faith}: but God gave it to Abraham by promise {by grace through faith}” (Galatians 3:11-18).

          Essential to our understanding of Romans 11:11-32 is to exactly understand what Romans 11:11 says, “I say then, Have they {national Israel} stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”  The problem in most English translations lies in the use of the same word “fall” to translate two different Greek words.  The first word translated “fall in the opening question is from the Greek word pipto (pip'-to).  The second word translated “fall” is from the Greek word paraptoma (par-ap'-to-mah).  These two Greek words are not referring to the same thing.  That is why the translation as we read it does not make much sense. 

In the question, “Have they stumbled that they should fall,” the answer is emphatic in the negative; “God forbid.”  It corresponds with the opening question and answer in Romans 11:1, “Hath God cast away his people? God forbid.”  The opening question of Romans 11:11 consents to Israel’s stumble.  The question is, did Israel fall completely and for good[1].  The “God forbid” is Paul’s inspired response to such a foolish notion.  The facts of the existence of both the Palestinian Covenant and the Davidic Covenant would emphatically refute the very idea of such a question. 

The second use of the word “fall” translated from paraptoma (par-ap'-to-mah) could be translated side-slip referring to a lapse or deviation[2] from the right pathway.  A more common term for this would be backsliding.  The text is not referring to the salvation of individuals or even the backsliding of individual Jews.  The text is referring to corporate Israel, or the nation of Israel collectively and primarily as represented in the priesthood of Israel.  The fact that the spiritual condition of the Levitical Priesthood of Israel was thee representation, not merely a representation, of the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel is critical to our understanding of what Paul is saying in Romans chapter eleven. 

1 Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. 2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. 3 Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away. 4 Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. 5 Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother. 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame. 8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. 9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings” (Hosea 4:1-9).

13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. 15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? 16 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding (Isaiah 29:13-16)?

          The priesthood of Israel’s side-step, referred to by the second use of the word “fall” in Romans 11:11, was the priesthood leading the nation of Israel away from salvation “by grace through faith” to salvation by “works”; i.e., Moralism and Ritualism.  Because of this side-step of the priesthood of Israel, God would call a new priesthood of all believers during the Church Age and test that new priesthood throughout everyone’s lifetime.  God would prove that new priesthood by individual faithfulness to discipleship and the Great Commission with the intent that those proven faithful will be installed (consecrated) over national Israel at the beginning of the Kingdom Age as the new Melchisedecan Priesthood, then ruling with Christ in glorified bodies. 

The criteria for testing and proving of this new Priesthood of all believers are found in two phrases in the Scriptures:  saved “by grace through faith” and “the just {those saved} shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).  Many get saved “by grace through faith,” but few of those that get saved “live by faith” (the grace-life).  The grace-life is the Christ-life that becomes available to every believer in the indwelling of the believer and is manifested through the filling of the Spirit. 

1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. 5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith” (Galatians 3:1-5)?

          It is to this outcome that the phrase “but rather through their {national Israel’s} fall {side-slip} salvation is come unto the Gentiles {ethnos; foreigners to national Israel and by implication all heathen ethnicities}, for to provoke them to jealousy” refers in Romans 11:11.  Therefore, God has two purposes in this:

1. That this new Priesthood of evangelists could lead both Jews and all other (“whosoever” of Romans 10:13) ethnicities to salvation “by grace through faith” in the “finished” work of redemption in the death, burial, and resurrection/glorification of Jesus Christ.
2. So that the nation of Israel would be provoked to “jealousy” and repent, turning to faith in Jesus as the Christ themselves one day.  This will happen during the last half of the Tribulation through the miraculous witnessing of the two witnesses and the 144,000 sealed Jews who all will preach Jesus as the Messiah and redemption “by grace through faith” in Him. 

          This is all important in the sense that, during the Church Age, national Israel is set aside and exists in the very place to which they have slipped.  Although still God’s chosen people, they presently are viewed by God as common sinners like everyone else in the world and need to get saved the same way any Gentile needs to be saved. 

6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us {Jews} and them {Gentiles}, purifying their {Gentiles’} hearts by faith” (Acts 15:6-9).

19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:19-31).

12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:12-13).

          From this contextual continuity, we can transition into the statement of Romans 11:12, “Now if the fall {paraptoma; same as the second use of “fall” in verse 11} of them {national Israel} be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them {national Israel} the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their {national Israel’s} fullness {referring to the restoration and salvation of national Israel during the Tribulation time}?” 

When the priesthood of national Israel side-slipped away from the pathway, or the faith-way, of salvation and the blessings God’s, the riches of God’s grace were extended into every ethnicity in the world through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by those sent into the world through the Great Commission. 

The “riches of the Gentiles” does not refer to material wealth or material blessings.  The phrase refers to the “riches of grace” in the new Priesthood of all believers of the Church Age.  This corporate election is the substance of the epistle to the Ephesians. 

Zionism means Jesus will physically rule over a literal worldwide Israeli Empire from Jerusalem during the Kingdom Age.  Jesus will share His rule with faithful believers from throughout the Church Age.  Church Age believers will constitute a new Melchizedecan priesthood under their Great High Priest Jesus. 

The metaphor of Jesus as the Bridegroom and the “church of the firstborn” as His Bride is integral to our understanding of the Kingdom relationship of Christ to His Church.  The espoused Bride becomes the wife of the Bridegroom when the Bridegroom brings the Bride home to His Kingdom.  The “marriage supper of the Lamb” takes place in Heaven during the seven years of Tribulation on Earth.  Obviously, if the “marriage supper of the Lamb” takes place in Heaven before the Bridegroom brings His Bride to His Kingdom to reign with Him, the Bride must be in Heaven for the “marriage supper of the Lamb.”

[1] A.T. Robertson’s Word Pictures, Romans 11:1, SwordSearcher Software 4.8
[2] Strong’s Greek Dictionary, SwordSearcher software 4.8

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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