Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Jeffrey D. Johnson: "the church does not replace Israel"


In the following selection from The Kingdom of God: A Baptist Expression of Biblical and Covenant Theology, Jeffrey D. Johnson explains why Reformed Theology-at least in its Reformed Baptist expression-should not be considered "replacement theology."

It is not as if God changed His mind about who were to receive the promised inheritance. From the beginning, the inheritance was reserved only for a select few who had been chosen by God. To illustrate this, Paul turned to the story of Jacob and Esau, the twin sons of Isaac, who were both the natural-born, circumcised grandchildren of Abraham. Yet according to Paul, the inheritance was not intended for all of Abraham’s physical seed. Rather, it was intended only for those whom God had chosen beforehand:

For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom 9:9-13).

What made Jacob different from Esau was not his birthright or his works, but divine election. Prior to the birth of these twin boys, there was a prophecy that proclaimed, “The older shall serve the younger” (Gen 25:23). This prophecy proved that God is the One who determines who will receive the inheritance.
In the same way, prior to the gospel breaking through to the Gentiles, there was an Old Testament prophecy that predicted this event: “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved’” (Rom 9:25; cf. Hos 2:23). “And in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ it shall be said to them, ‘Children of the living God’” (Hos 1:10). In addition, Paul went on to explain that the Old Testament made it clear that only a small number of the physical seed of Abraham would be saved: “And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved’” (Rom 9:27). Thus, the first reason why the majority of physical Israel were rejecting the kingdom was that the promises were exclusively given to God’s elect people, who consisted of Abraham’s spiritual seed.

….

[As seen in Romans 15], the church does not replace Israel. Rather, believing Gentiles are grafted into the same tree with believing Jews. That is, Gentiles do not enjoy a different inheritance but share in the same inheritance that was promised to Abraham and his seed. As Paul specifically indicates later in the chapter, “the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings” (Rom 15:27).

A couple of qualifications that I would add to the above:
  • Johnson writes, "the promises were exclusively given to God’s elect people, who consisted of Abraham’s spiritual seed." I would say that the promises are primarily secured by God's elect Man, Jesus Christ, who was fully qualified as the fulfillment of Abraham's seed in both the physical and spiritual sense. These promises, first enjoyed by the elect from Abraham's physical seed [for the most part], were expanded through Christ to all the elect: Abraham's spiritual seed from both Jews and Gentiles. I believe-based on some other passages in his book-that Johnson would agree with this.
  • Johnson writes of "a select few." I believe, based on passages like Daniel 2:35, Matthew 13:32, and Revelation 7:9 that-in the final analysis-the group of the elect will not be few, but innumerable, demonstrating the richness of God's grace in Christ.

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