God has TWO separate and distinct peoples, TWO programs of redemption, and TWO different destinies¾one for the nation of Israel and one for the Church.
Since when? From the beginning, there has only been a oneness— one Garden of Eden, one tree of life, one Noah’s ark, one ark of the covenant, one Tabernacle, one Temple, one priesthood, one hope, one faith, one Spirit, one baptism, one body depicted by one olive tree into which believing Gentiles were grafted and unbelieving Jews broken off, but can be re-grafted in. There is only one everlasting New Covenant promised to Israel, one “time of the end,” one salvation that is of the Jews, and one nation or people of God. This oneness has been consistently maintained throughout God’s dispensations. This oneness has never been divided or disconnected.
The relatively modern theory of a separation or distinction between Israel and the Church was introduced into Church history in the 1830’s by John Nelson Darby. Darby placed the ethnic Jews at the heart of his dispensational prophetic system. He taught that when the Jews rejected Christ, God set them aside for awhile and inserted the Church Age. Hence, Darby and his followers surmised that God has two different programs and two different destinies for two different peoples. But Darby’s dichotomizing notion is without scriptural warrant. Even worse, it would be “crucifying the Son of God all over again” (Heb. 6:6).
God’s one plan was that his Christ would appear “once and for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26). That once was sufficient. In this manner, believing Jews and Gentiles are united together as equal heirs of God’s blessings and equal partakers of God’s promises in one body through the one Messiah. This union of Jew-Gentile oneness was the goal of God’s one, completed program of redemption. That’s why “in Christ” the distinction between Jew and Gentile has been utterly done away and one, New Covenant people formed (Rom. 10:12; Gal. 3:26-29; Eph. 2:14-22; 3:6; 4:4; Col. 3:15; John 17:21; 1 Cor. 12:12-13). Jew-Gentile unity was the bottom line.
Let’s not put ethnic division back. There is no such thing as an exempted group of people. Nor are Christianity and the Church Age a “plan B.” Christianity is God’s one and only plan. God’s grand purpose was not to draw more boundaries or put up another wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, but to make all one in Christ (Eph. 1:10). Jews must come to God in exactly the same way as the Gentiles do. This Christological unity and oneness continuity is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise from Genesis to Revelation that “all peoples of earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3b; also see: 18:18; 22:18; Gal. 3:8; Rev. 21 & 22). It’s the mystery Paul made known (Eph. 3:3-6). Thus, biblical faith became truly universal in the 1st century. All physical Jews and Gentiles are invited to become citizens of that one nation and one people of God via God’s one and only way of salvation (1 Pet. 2:9).
God’s one inclusive plan of redemption does not await a future millennium or tribulation period. Nor is Christianity merely a “fill-in religion,” a “great gap,” or a “parenthesis” between two ends for a national or ethnic Israel. There is no room in Scripture for two separate peoples, programs, destinies, or even two separate applications. The idea of a “Church/Israel dichotomy” is a popular but unbiblical invention. Unfortunately, it’s so deeply implanted in some hearts that God’s oneness may be hard to swallow.
Let’s understand that “Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy” (Rom. 15:8-9). This understanding saves us from the error that Christianity is separate from the Jewish promises. We’d all be well-advised in this instance to follow the admonition “What God has joined together, let man not separate [put assunder]” (Matt. 19:6 NIV [KJV]).
1 The Israel Illusion (future book – est. 2016) by John Noe