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The Remnant of Israel in the Church Age: Theological and Practical Considerations for the Church Part #3
According To Prophecy Ministries & Evangelist Perkins, brings you articles from some of his colleagues in Bible Prophecy. He has also included the email addresses of the authors at the bottom of their articles, please email the authors and let them know what you think of their articles.
By: Steven Charles Ger

" Remnant: The concept of remnant can be Biblically defined as that continuous portion, be it large or small, of the community of ethnic Israel which has been supernaturally preserved and redeemed through various divine judgments throughout various dispensations. This preservation is on account of Godís sovereign choice, or election, and not by virtue of human effort."



Steven Charles Ger.

Steven Charles Ger.

Practical Implications

When friends in the church speak of Jewish believers assimilating into the larger "Christian" culture, they usually mean a "Gentile" culture. For some 1500 years, the Jewish believer has not been free to celebrate his dual identity. On the one hand, the Jewish community has branded him a traitor and excommunicated him, and on the other hand, the church has demanded the renunciation of all or at least most of his Jewish cultural practices, denunciation of his national heritage, and often disassociation from other Jews. For 1900 years the Jewish community has attempted to marginalize, delegitimize and stigmatize the Israel of God; for 1800 years the church has forced the remnant to renounce their heritage and denounce their nation and has pronounced anathema on maintenance of Jewish culture. Jewish believers have not been allowed to retain their God-given dual identity but have been forced to assimilate into the culturally Gentile church.

Based on a faulty exegesis of Eph. 2:14-16, it is feared that the retention of cultural Jewish identity would rebuild a middle wall of partition and lead to separatism. One can only wonder what the original Jewish apostles would say. Would some believers actually say to Peter, "Why do you insist on acting so Jewish?" And would he perhaps respond, "Why do you insist on acting so Gentile?"

It seems upon even the most casual reading of the New Testament that the apostles and disciples found no conflict between their national identity and their faith allegiance. The witness of the book of Acts, in particular, suggests that for the early church to have considered themselves anything but part of national Israel, i.e. Jews, would have been absurd and unthinkable (Acts 1:6; 3:1; 11:18; 15:1-29; Acts 16:3; 21:20-26). Any imagined identity conflicts arise from deficient theological systems, not ontological realities.

Jewish people have no choice in their Jewishness, by definition; it is conferred by circumstance of birth. For the majority of Jewish believers, to ignore this God-given distinction is to disparage the rich heritage God has bestowed upon us to share with the world. Simply because the church has historically forced us to do so because of faulty theological premises does not mean that in more enlightened theological eras the trend must inevitably continue.

The question arises as to how Jewish believers, fullmembers of both the Church and Israel, can be both the "wife of the Lord" and the "bride of Christ". Although these are simply descriptive metaphors for communicating Biblical truth and cannot be stretched too far, many of us recoil at the incestuous implications. Obviously, some agree with the old Yiddish proverb, "With one toches28 you canít dance at two weddings." On the one hand, the remnant of Israel has been the wife of God from the time they were chosen at Sinai. On the other hand, all believers are betrothed to Jesus Christ. Do Jewish believers need to get divorced from the Lord so that they can become the bride of Christ, and if so, at what point does this divorce Biblically occur?

The solution to this metaphorical conundrum is that Jewish believers, as a result of both genealogical heritage and theological beliefs, are Biblically considered both the wife of God and the bride of Christ. This simply means that Jewish believers are in attendance at two weddings, one of which serves kosher!

The Jewish believerís membership in the church does not and cannot exclude him from membership in Israel. As a Jew, a child of Abraham through Jacob, and as a follower of the Messiah, the Jewish believer belongs equally to two camps. Jewish believers, as the contemporary manifestation of the remnant, the Israel of God, reject the demand to wear only one hat, to hold only one membership card, to dance at only one wedding. We refuse, on solid Biblical grounds, to be limited to the designation of Christian or Jew. Neither is it sufficient to be considered as half of one and half of another. Jewish believers are one hundred percent members of Israel and one hundred percent members of the church.

Although there is now no distinction between Jews and Gentiles with regard to salvation and access to God (Gal 3:28), there are distinctions between Jewish believers and Gentile believers. Unity in Christ does not absolve the diversity of the components God chose to incorporate into His church. In other words, "oneness" does not necessarily entail "sameness." What then is the role of the Jewish believer today?

The distinctions are to be found within the Abrahamic Covenant. Although Jewish and Gentile believers alike are partaking of the spiritual blessings of the covenant as Abrahamís spiritual seed, Jewish believers are Abrahamís physical seed as well, and additional elements of the covenant apply specifically to them. Elements which still apply to Jewish believers would be the divine right of possession of the land of Israel, the reciprocal blessing and cursing on those who bless and curse Israel, and the sign of circumcision, which, finding its foundation within the Abrahamic Covenant, is still incumbent upon all Jews, including those within the believing remnant (Jn. 7:22; Acts 16:3; 21:21-24; Rom. 3:1).

An additional distinction may be found within the Mosaic Covenant. This covenant has been replaced and rendered inoperative by Christís death and so is no longer obligatory (Heb. 8:13, Rom. 10:4). However, just because the Jewish believer is not obligated to practice Torah, it does not follow that he must not practice certain aspects of Torah. As the revealed sacred standards of God, Paul confirms that the law is still holy, righteous and good (Rom. 7:12). Jewish believers have liberty in Christ to observe certain facets of the Torah as long as those particular customs do not contradict New Testament revelation (Acts 15; 16:3; 21:21-24).

Yet when the remnant asserts its Jewishness, either culturally, historically or practically, it seems that sometimes Gentile believers feel threatened, as did Jewish believers in the first century when the situation was reversed (Acts 15, 21:20-22). Yet Jews didnít invent these cultural and historical distinctions. In fact, most of the 4000 year history of Israel has been spent trying to overcome the seductive yearning to assimilate into the majority Gentile culture. It is God Who insisted on separation from the Gentiles. And it is only the separation, not the distinctions, which has been erased by Christ through membership in His body (Eph. 2:14-16; Gal. 3:28).

Rather than be threatened by the Jewishness of the remnant, the church should be celebrating the continued existence of the remnant as a wonderful example of Godís grace and faithfulness. We should revel in our distinctions, because then our unity is that much more captivating to an observing world. How interesting is a monochromatic tapestry? Not very interesting at all. A tapestry of two colors, skillfully and brilliantly woven together, shows far greater artistry.

Many people have assumed that Jewish believers are trying to have it both ways, that they want the privileges of dual membership in both Israel and the church. And the assumed answer is that Jewish believers cannot have it both ways. They must be one or the other, members of Israel or members of the church. They have to fit into a nice, neat little theological box. Yet Jewish believers can and do have it both ways. It is neither presumptuous nor pretentious to claim what is in actuality ours. Jewish Christians have an inheritance from two sources, Israel and the Messiah.

By way of illustration, it is as if the believing Gentiles and Jews were two sons in a blended family. They share the same father yet have different mothers. Both sons receive an equal inheritance from the father. Yet the first son will also receive an inheritance from his mother. Should the second son be jealous because the first son received an additional extra inheritance? Of course not. The inheritance wasnít from the second sonís mother; the inheritance didnít belong to him.

Just because the Gentiles only have an inheritance from one source, Messiah, doesnít mean that God has to make it all "fair" and remove one source of the Jewish believerís inheritance. Does God treat all his children equally? When it comes to divine access and salvation, of course He does. The Bible says there is no favoritism, and that God is no respecter of persons. Yet the distinctions He has made have not been erased (Gal.3:28). In point of fact, itís not as if anyone, Jew or Gentile, actually deserved his or her inheritance. And itís not as if the inheritance we the church receive is not more than enough for an eternity of eternities. In this illustration, both sons are Rockefellers.

Conclusion

Considering the above theological reconsiderations and practical implications, it is proposed that we endeavor to exhibit another of the three pillars of Dispensationalism, that of the glorification of God, specifically, by believing Jews and Gentiles seeking to glorify Him through the common celebration of our God-ordained cultural distinctives. While there are many and numerous culturally Gentile customs, programs and celebrations currently practiced within the church, certain additions of Jewish origin can only prove profitable to the vitality of the body of Christ. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, primarily on the local corporate church level but also on the regional and denominational level. It is important to note that none of the following suggestions necessarily leads to the creation of separatism, ethnocentrism or so-called "judaizing," when executed with correct intent and proper spirit.

Activate programs and creative ideas for Jewish evangelism. The Jewish community, in America and abroad, is still a largely unreached people group, despite their historic and cultural nearness to the gospel. Although Jesus taught that "salvation is from the Jews" (John 4:22), and Paul taught that the reason Gentiles are saved is to evangelize Jews (Romans 11:11), the overwhelming majority of churches exhibit neither interest nor energy in reaching Jewish people.

Actively pray for the safety and salvation of the Jewish people. The only recorded prayer for the unsaved in the entire New Testament is Paulís prayer for the salvation of the Jewish people (Rom. 10:1). Blessing is promised for those who pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122).

Support Jewish missions and teaching ministries. Although many churches are located within reasonable distance from Jewish communities and contain believers who have personal contact with Jews through family, friends, business, and local services, many churches are removed from such intimate contact. Regardless of proximity, all churches can participate in Jewish evangelism by supporting a Jewish parachurch ministry. Paul not only taught the priority of Jewish evangelism (Rom. 1:16) but also the obligation of Gentiles to give generously to the support of Jewish work (Rom. 15:27).

Plan a church Israel tour. Experiencing the land promised to the chosen people can greatly enhance a believerís love and concern for the Jewish people.

Celebrate the messianic fulfillment of a Jewish festival such as Passover or Tabernacles. These are spiritually profitable (Col. 2:16-17) and often prove an enormous catalyst in exciting believers about their faith. Invite a Jewish ministry (such as Sojourner Ministries) to lead or assist in the implementation.

Visit or even financially help support a local messianic congregation. Be selective here, however, as the messianic congregational movement is fairly new and there is a great deal of theological variety between individual congregations, which may or not correspond to your local churchís orientation.

Invite the worship team from your local messianic congregation to play in your church one Sunday. It is usually easy to coordinate this as most messianic congregations worship on Friday or Saturday.

One caveat: only explore this suggestion if your church is prepared to "rock your world." Messianic music is generally of the energetic strain.

Encourage the Jewish believers in your congregation. Many Jewish believers who, rather than join a messianic congregation, have joined a predominantly Gentile church, often feel isolated, lonely and generally "out of synch" with their Gentile brethren. They are often a tiny minority of one or only a few and perceive themselves as being "between two worlds," not fully accepted for who they are in either arena. Although these Jewish brethren might never vocalize their isolation, some general encouragement can go a long way when incorporating any minority members into the church whole.

This, of course, assumes there is at least one Jewish member of your local body. (And if there isnít, go out and find one!) Create and implement a circumcision celebration within the church. This, of course, is only to be done as needed Ė donít conscript a volunteer! Although this is to be implemented only by the spiritual and physical seed of Abraham, Jewish believers, it should be celebrated by the entire church family.

To corporately recognize that God is not yet through with the Jewish people by publicly implementing the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant is a powerful testimony to the faithfulness of God. This suggestion should meet no opposition particularly within churches which practice the traditional customs of baby dedications or infant baptisms. As has occasionally been said in support of various church programs, "If it was good enough for Jesus (or Paul, or Peter, et al.), it is good enough for me!" (Lk. 2:21; Phil. 3:5). This slogan is particularly apt regarding circumcision. Similarly, create and implement a Bar Mitzvah/Bat Mitzvah celebration within the church for Jewish believing 13-year-olds. Confirmation catechisms and the like need not substitute for following the Biblical customs of our ancestors.

Messianic congregations would probably hold less appeal for Jewish believers if more churches implemented these above suggestions, allowing Jewish believers to express themselves as Jews instead of feeling compelled to exchange their customs, their heritage for post-Biblical Gentile counterparts. The liturgy of most church traditions, of "high" or "low" orientation, is replete with substitutions, equivalents and copies of traditional Hebrew customs and ceremonies. If the ancient Jewish customs are shadows of things to come and all have their essence in Christ Himself (Col. 2:16-17), their enactment can only be of benefit to the church (Eph. 4:12-13).

The greatest example of Godís historic and ongoing faithfulness is to be found in the preservation of a believing remnant. From the times of the patriarchs through the coming future tribulation, the principal evidence provided for all believers, Jew and Gentile, to confidently place their trust in Him to keep His promises and bring His program to completion is His sovereign and gracious preservation of the remnant (Rom. 9-11). It is the enduring, organic and growing remnant of Israel, the very Israel of God, which is the luminous beacon of Godís faithfulness throughout history, past, present and future.

The purpose of this work has been to demonstrate that a correct understanding of the concept of the remnant of Israel is essential to appreciating the Godís faithfulness. The remnant concept has been traced through both Old and New Testaments. Certain theological weaknesses inherent to Dispensationalism have been examined. Several practical implications of that examination have been discussed and several corrective applications proposed.

This work will conclude by joining with Arnold Fruchtenbaum in his call for a new entry to be added to our systematic theologies as a necessary corrective. It is imperative for dispensational studies to offer a comprehensive theological curriculum. Therefore, the addition of the category of Israelology would be decidedly strategic.

27. Seif, Jeffrey L. The Evolution of A Revolution. Lanham: University, 1994. p52.

28. Common Yiddish word meaning "posterior".


Sojourner Ministries The vision of Sojourner Ministries is to explore the Jewish heart of Christianity.

The Jewish heart of Christianity is the Messiah, Jesus; born of a Jewish mother in the Jewish homeland and who lived within a Jewish cultural context.

The channel for exploration of the Jewish heart of Christianity is the Scripture, which the Messiah incarnates; the ancient Hebrewsí living record of God's interaction and program for both Jewish and Gentile people throughout history.

The purpose of Sojourner Ministriesí exploration of the Jewish heart of Christianity is the instruction of believers in the original Jewish context and perspective of the Scriptures, resulting in richer connection to our Hebrew roots, deeper concern for the Jewish people and renewed appreciation for the plan of God.


Steven Charles Ger.

Steven Charles Ger.

Steven Charles Ger grew up in a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York and Aberdeen, New Jersey, where he was educated in both church and synagogue due to his distinctive heritage as a Jewish Christian.

He is the founder and director of Sojourner Ministries, an organization dedicated to exploring the Jewish heart of Christianity. The name of the ministry is derived from the Hebrew meaning of Mr. Gerís surname. In Hebrew, the word "ger"(Hebrew writing4) means sojourner or wanderer. This particular "wandering" Jewís faith journey has led him to the conviction that Jesus is the Messiah who was foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Mr. Ger is uniquely equipped to comment on Israel, Judaism, and the Church and has appeared as a guest expert on radio and television. He is also the host of an hour-long teaching video showing how Christís reinterpretation of the Passover meal instituted the celebration of communion and announced a new era in human history.

Mr. Ger has led many overseas tours, including 10 to Israel with extensions to Egypt, Greece, Jordan, Turkey and Germany. He served for seven years as Director of Worship and Christian Education at Providence Church in Rowlett, Texas. He is also an accomplished singer, pianist and songwriter whose composition, "Jeremiah 31", was recorded by the Liberated Wailing Wall on their album, He Will Return. Many congregations have enjoyed participating with him in invigorating, contemporary messianic worship.

He earned a BA in psychology and interpersonal communications from Trenton State College and a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Mr. Ger lives in the Dallas area with his wife, Adria, and their son, Jonathan Gabriel.

You may contact Steven Charles Ger:

Tel: (972) 226-SOJ4 (7654)
Sojourner Ministries / P.O. Box 497972 / Garland TX 75049-7972
E-mail: SojoSteven@aol.com
World Wide Website: Sojourner Ministries



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