Fulton County Gospel News

a work of the mammoth spring church of christ


The Israel of God

By Alton W. Fonville

In a world of fighting and killing over land possessions which were given thousands of years ago, much of the world still looks for a nation of people to rise and take possession of lands which were all settled in Bible times. The Israelites of Bible times were taken captive and ultimately, most of them were destroyed because of their unfaithfulness and the rejection of Jesus Christ the Lord. At the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 about which Jesus Himself taught, warning his disciples very carefully, the Jewish nation was effectively wiped out. As a nation of "God's people," physical Israel had ceased to exist.

But, the Holy Spirit taught of a new nation of people known as the "Israel of God" which would rise in the days of the Roman kings, when God would set up a kingdom which would last forever (Daniel 2:44). This kingdom would be composed of all peoples of the earth-not just one nation as had been the case. It is identified as being the Lord's church which Jesus promised to build (Mark 1:15; Matthew 16:18). When Jesus told his disciples that the kingdom was "at hand" and that repentance and belief of the gospel was necessary, He was laying down the steps for admittance to this kingdom. Belief of the gospel necessarily included obedience to it, because He said, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15-16). "Every creature" means to every nation under heaven-not just one nation of people.

Notice further what the Spirit said through the pen of Paul: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation; to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16). Salvation is made possible to every one who will believe and obey it. That includes all people of the earth-Jews and Gentiles alike. Jews now have no monopoly on salvation. Today, "whosoever will" may come and drink of the water of life and receive salvation.

The Jews were always so very proud of their heritage-being children of Abraham. They are fighting today because of that very reason, yet they cannot trace their genealogy. But, when the Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, about A.D. 33, all nations of people, being assembled at Jerusalem, responded to the preaching of the gospel by Peter. He had just quoted from Joel 2:28-32; and, regarding all those strange things which had been mentioned, Peter said, "this is that" which had been prophesied hundreds of years earlier. And, of course, Jeremiah 31:31-34 was among the fulfilled prophecies of that day. Jeremiah told of that new covenant which was to be established, and that it was not like the old one written on tables of stone, which was taken away.

When Solomon had built the beautiful temple at Jerusalem and prayed his powerful prayer to God, even with all his wisdom it is doubtful that he fully understood just what he had said. He mentioned that even the stranger who was among the Israelites could pray to God and learn to fear Him, walking in His ways-the good way (2 Chronicles 6:32-33, 27). The temple was the place for God's habitation and it had hopes of lasting forever, but, due to the failures and sins of mankind, including those of the great Solomon, it was at last destroyed, never again to be rebuilt. But, the church, that eternal kingdom which was started on that first Pentecost day after Christ ascended to heaven, is the dwelling place of God today. And all people can become a part of that kingdom. No one will be able to vote you into it. The Lord does the adding of obedient believers to it, just like on that first day of its existence (Acts 2:47).

The Spirit makes it quite clear that anyone can be a child of Abraham and there will be no difference between the Jew and Gentile through faith and obedience: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. . . . And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's' seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:26-29). We each must be "in Christ" to be qualified as an heir (Romans 6:3-6).

337 Madison 4605
St. Paul, AR 72760



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