In the UK we have just recently celebrated Easter, the wonderful celebration and time of the year that Christians remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. Easter is not the only time of the year that we should remember and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, this should be celebrated as a local body of Christ every week. However, it does give Christians a very focused time to consider Jesus’ work on the cross and the effects of it.
Over the years of my theological studies and conversations with Christians, I’ve engaged with people who have wholeheartedly agreed and argued that salvation is found in Christ alone. However, somehow when it comes to the nation of Israel, both currently and eschatologically, that conviction can sometimes be forgotten. Am I alone in this, or have you found this to be the case too?
The conversation normally goes something like this…
Q – “How are people saved, how are people’s sins atoned for?”
A – “Through the death of Jesus!”
Q – “Is there any way for anyone to be saved, apart from the death of Jesus?”
A – “No, Jesus is the only way!”
Q – “So, how do you understand the Jewish people and how they fit into God’s salvation plan?”
A – something along the lines of “Israel are an exception, in some way, and they are still the people of God”
The difficult thing about this topic is that it involves so many different things; politics, doctrine of the End Times, and sometimes one’s understanding of how to interpret Scripture. Personally, I find this topic very interesting.
I’ve spoken to people who would describe themselves as ‘reformed’ and a few have said that they see the church as a fulfilment of Old Testament Israel. This is not what some critics of this school of thought would call ‘replacement theology’. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who claims that the church has replaced Israel, but more that the church is the continuation of Israel in the sense that the church is now the people of God. However, I’ve also spoken to people who would describe themselves as ‘Zionists’ they would put a big emphasis on evangelising the Jews, and a large interest on the current state of Israel.
For many people this topic of the nation of Israel is tied up with their view of eschatology And exactly what nature the return of Christ will take. I find this interesting because sometimes people’s theology is put at odds with each other and they don’t even realise it. Therefore, it is important to know what we believe and why we believe.
This blog post is more of a question than anything, it would be great for you to get in touch and let me know your view of the nature of Israel and their place in God’s salvation plan? I’m always keen to learn and I would like to try understand this topic more.
But I would say that we need to be absolutely clear that Christ’s atoning work is complete and that the a Bible would say that a person is only saved through faith in Jesus. Therefore, from my own experience, many people should ask themselves ‘does my view of Israel diminish the work of the work?’
I think that this is an important question because it is abut salvation, both now and in the Old Testament. I’ve heard Christians argue, sometimes without realising it, that adherence to the Old Testament was enough for salvation. Hence the Old Testament was salvation by works. However, I think that this position misunderstands the Law and Salvation. It’s is also an important question because it is about the extent and effect of the atoning death of Christ. If there is a way to be made right with God outside of the cross then didn’t he lie by saying that he was the way to the father, and isn’t the rest of the New Testament wrong when it argues that one can be made righteous solely by Jesus’ sacrifice?
This could be part of a much larger problem in Christendom today; that there are those who hold to positions on doctrines and convictions without being able to back them up from the Bible. There are so many wonderful resources out there which present ‘bite-size theology’ and they’re helpful, but are we reducing our entire theology to be bite-size and by doing so are we neglecting the serious study of God’s Word?
So I’ll leave you with the probing question from the title; Does your view of Israel diminish the work of the Cross?