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The Remnant of Israel in the Church Age: Theological and Practical Considerations for the Church Part #2
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 God’s sovereign choice, or election, and not by virtue of human effort."

Steven Charles Ger

Steven Charles Ger

Theological Reconsiderations Concerning The Remnant

The Remnant within Classic Dispensational Theology

Dispensationalism, as with all theological systems, attempts to categorize and systematize the revelation of God. Each particular theological system’s weakness is revealed by what happens to that specific data which does not neatly fit into the proposed constructs, grids and containers of that theology. Theologians generally hate tensions, antinomies and, above all, squishy facts that do not seem to neatly fit into one categorical box or another. The remnant of Israel is a prime example of this unfortunate pattern. This section, perhaps the most controversial, must begin with a disclaimer. What I am proposing is a revisitation of a particular poorly developed area within Dispensationalism, not Dispensationalism as a system. These views should in no way be interpreted as advocating Progressive Dispensationalism.

Much of what is being discussed can be also found within Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s massive and comprehensive Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology. It was reassuring to discover that Fruchtenbaum had arrived at many of the following conclusions ahead of this author, often choosing the same texts from which to study.

Israel’s glorious past and future figure most prominently throughout the traditional dispensational system, yet it seems that only the theological equivalent of "lipservice" is given to the realities of Israel in this present dispensation.

Two classic, decades-long DTS textbooks will suffice for examination: Dr. Chafer’s Systematic Theology8 and Dr. Pentecost’s Things to Come.9 These particular works were chosen, not on the basis of being the most contemporary presentations of dispensational systematics, but on the basis of sustained influence as well as continued, widespread usage both within and without the classroom setting. In Pentecost’s classic volume Things To Come, we particularly see how the contemporary manifestation of the remnant is conspicuously absent within foundational Dispensationalism.

After the day of Pentecost and until the rapture we find the church…but no spiritual Israel. After the rapture we find no church, but a true or spiritual Israel again.

Pentecost is denying the very existence of a present remnant, proposing no true Israel in this dispensation whatsoever, contra Paul (Rom. 11), contra Peter (1 Peter 2:1-10). It would seem from their writings that these apostles certainly understood themselves to be the remnant.

From the time of Christ’s rejection by Israel until the time when God deals specifically with Israel again in the seventieth week it is not possible to refer to a remnant of the nation Israel. In the body of Christ all national distinctions disappear. All Jews who are saved are not saved into a national relationship, but into a relationship to Christ in that body of believers…There is no continuing remnant of Israel with whom God is particularly dealing today…Because that nation is now blinded, God can not have a remnant within the nation.

Jewish believers neither lose ethnicity nor nationality. The whole point of what Paul argues in Romans 11 is to demonstrate that a contemporary remnant currently is manifesting itself, as usual. Without a remnant, there is no Israel of God (Gal 6:16) and the promises of God have been voided, leaving God unfaithful indeed (see figure 5).

Figure 5

It goes beyond the Biblical text to explain away Jewish believers’ current enjoyment of the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant by denying that they are members of the remnant of Israel. "By definition, this group (Jewish believers) bears a dual identity as both a remnant within Israel the people and as a particular community within the body of Christ"12 (see figure 6).

Figure 6

When God again deals with the nation Israel, salvation will be offered on the basis of the blood of Christ.

When has God ceased dealing with Israel? And is not salvation now presently offered to them on the basis of Christ’s blood? One would get the impression from reading Things to Come that within the current church age, there are currently no Jews getting saved.

As long as the church is on the earth there are none saved to a special Jewish relationship. All who are saved are saved to a position in the body of Christ.

Pentecost creates a false dichotomy. He is confusing believing Gentiles with the Church. In the passion to keep Israel and the Church distinct, Pentecost has obliterated God’s remnant in this age (see figure 7).

Figure 7

God will first conclude his work for the Gentiles in the period of Israel’s dispersion; then he will return to bring in the promised blessings for Israel.

The church is manifestly an interruption of God’s program for Israel…this mystery program must itself be brought to a conclusion before God can resume His dealing with the nation Israel.

Jewish believers are like the tiny Whos in Whoville in Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who, shouting at the top of their lungs, "We are here, we are here, we are here!" (see figure 8). The tendency among some Dispensationalists, who know better, seems to be to use "believing Gentiles" and "the church" interchangeably, substituting one term for the other at will.

Figure 8

Israel and the Church

Even if one yields to the preponderance of evidence of God working with Israel through the remnant, the question then arises as to whether God is still working with Israel outside of the remnant. Pentecost’s system rejects both alternatives, overlooking that God is working with Jews during this present dispensation, both within the church and even outside of it as a national entity (see figure 9). "Yahweh continues to be revealed in Israel, both within and apart from the body of believers…God is still revealed through the existence of the people of Israel, just as in times past."

Figure 9

To teach that within the present dispensation God is only dealing with the church is declaring that God only works with one group of His people at a time. Biblically, why should we limit God to working with one group at a time? Does God only conduct with one hand? Is His arm too short? Is He not ambidextrous?

Even a poor conductor can conduct different sections of his orchestra using two hands simultaneously. If the woodwind section is currently playing more loudly than is the string section, the conductor is still equally conducting both sections. And if the score calls for the string section to cease playing in the middle of a presentation so that another group may take up the musical motif, the strings’ present silence is in no way an indication that they are no longer under the conductor’s sway. And, of course, it is also no indication that they have ceased playing altogether. Unbelieving Israel is neither set aside nor on the back burner in this dispensation. God has been steadily working his way, orchestrating lives, generations and historical events to the crescendo level that is presently beginning to break out. Soon enough, imminently, Scripture indicates, all members of the orchestra will be performing at full tilt.

An alternate way to illustrate these truths would be to picture a freshwater river flowing from west to east (see figure 10). This fresh water river is ethnic Israel. Somewhere along its course, the river splits. The majority, unbelieving Israel, changes course, flowing southward (Rom 11:7-10). What’s left, a mere remnant of Israel, now no more than a mere brook, remains on course (Rom. 11:5). The brook is suddenly intersected by a mightysaltwater river. These are believing Gentiles (Rom 11:17). Together, the freshwater brook, the believing Jews, and the saltwater river, believing Gentiles, flow together, mysteriously retaining both their fresh and salty distinctiveness (Eph. 3:6). Saltwater and freshwater fish alike are able to thrive in these waters together. This is the church, and it will flow inexorably toward its final destination.

Figure 10

Meanwhile, the mighty freshwater river of unbelieving Israel which had so drastically changed course has not been forgotten. God Himself is slowly but inevitably prodding this river, ever incrementally adjusting its course northward, until it will again intersect with the church river (Rom. 11:26) and all will stream together into the millennium.

The Remnant and the Abrahamic Covenant

Lest it be feared that this study is focusing too intently on Dr. Pentecost, let us turn our attention to a brief selection Dr. Chafer’s writings.

All that is related to her covenants and promises are in abeyance…No Jewish Covenants are now being fulfilled.

It should seem that the fact of Israel being back in her land after 2000 years of exile indicates that at least one provision of the Abrahamic Covenant is currently operative. Fruchtenbaum19 reminds us that the demonstration of history shows that the Abrahamic Covenant is also still operative in that those who have blessed the Jews have been blessed in return, and those who have cursed the Jews have been cursed in return (Gen. 12:3).

No covenant promises of God are nullified by virtue of Jewish faith in Christ. The Jewish believer does not, he cannot, become a de facto Gentile in relation to the divine promises made to his ancestors. The remnant’s membership in the body of Christ does not nullify their receipt of God’s promises to His people. Neither do the promises somehow skip a dispensation. The covenants are eternal and not abrogated by the church. God has not set aside Israel, even momentarily, but has kept for Himself a remnant of faith (Rom 11:5).

It is cavalier to argue that because not every provision of God’s covenants with Israel is presently being fulfilled within the nation, that all covenants are currently inoperative. Jewish believers within the church are currently enjoying a portion of the benefits of the covenants given to their ancestors. God’s work with the church is not mutually exclusive of His simultaneously workings with national Israel in preparation for her glorious future and the final fulfillment of all covenantal promises. God’s promise, gifts, call, etc., are irrevocable, including for those Jews who are now in the church (Rom 11:29).

Of the various dispensations, Israel partakes of the Abrahamic, Mosaic and millennial dispensations in a special way. The church has a partial relationship to the Abrahamic Covenant because it is included in the promised blessing to all nations…the church will reign with Christ, like Israel, and will enjoy the new heavens, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem. The distinction between Israel and the church, however, is maintained throughout the entire program of God.

Romans 11 maintains that in addition to Chafer’s list, Israel also partakes of the present grace dispensation. In none of the cited dispensations did or will the entirety of ethnic Israel partake of God’s special blessings for that period. Here, Chafer speaks as if the church were comprised entirely of believing Gentiles. Yet the church is comprised of believing Gentiles and believing Jews, and one cannot disenfranchise the Jewish component of the church from the entirety of the Abrahamic promises simply because the covenant doesn’t apply equally in every component to Gentile brethren.

The Remnant and the Land Covenant

Israel’s dispersion and exile and contemporary partial regathering all indicate that the Land covenant has been operational throughout the church age (Deut. 29-30). The absence of positive results from an unconditional covenant does not mean that the covenant is currently inactive if it is evident that results from the negative stipulations are presently being experienced.

The Remnant and the Davidic Covenant

Although Jesus is not currently reigning on the throne of David in Jerusalem and is not functionally the King of Israel, He is ontologically the Jewish King and as such provides a clear beacon of hope and encouragement on Whom the current remnant can rely in light of the covenant with David (1 Chron. 17:10-14).

The Remnant and the New Covenant

Three final passages will suffice to demonstrate certain weaknesses inherent to the system as outlined by Chafer and Pentecost.

In the case of Israel the new covenant will be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom, and in the case of the church it is being fulfilled in the present age.

(The New) Covenant cannot be realized by Israel until God has effected her salvation and restoration to the land…until Israel’s salvation, and this salvation follows the return of the Deliverer… in the millennial age.

…These to whom (the New Covenant) was primarily and originally made will not receive its fulfillment nor its blessings until it is confirmed and made actual to them at the second advent of Christ…Its benefits will not be received by Israel until the second advent.

It is not Scriptural to proclaim that the remnant of Israel is not currently realizing a portion of the New Covenant blessings along with their believing Gentile brethren. Jesus told his disciples at His last supper that the new covenant was about to be inaugurated, within the next few hours, upon his death. It is absurd to postulate that Jesus meant to exclude those Jews physically present with him from the enjoyment of the covenant He was about to initiate, or that He understood His disciples to be somehow disconnected from the nation of Israel. The new covenant is indeed being fulfilled for Israel in the present age to the extent that the Israel of God is participating in the body of Christ. The fact that Jewish believers are saved and indwelled in this dispensation is incontrovertibly on the basis of the New Covenant inaugurated with the death of the Messiah.

The Remnant within the Church

The distinction between the church and Israel is one of the three pillars on which Dispensationalism rests.24 However, although well intentioned, this emphasis as developed thus far neither recognizes nor integrates the Biblical truth that a portion of Israel is indeed within the church. Dispensationalism must make room not only for the traditional distinction between Israel and the church but also for Israel in the church (see figure 11).

Figure 11

The church is Biblically defined as believing Jew and Gentile together, a new creation (Gal. 6:15, Eph. 3:6). Yet, as House notes, "The majority of Christians today don’t think of the church as being made up of Jews and Gentiles, but Gentiles alone."25 There is a clear failure to recognize that the remnant is always part of Israel and is not separated from it, and that it is possible to be part of the remnant and part of the church at the same time.

The remnant is the Jewish wing of the Church. The church is an airplane that only has two wings, a Jewish wing and a Gentile wing. If one wing is lost or ignored, the church crashes. It is uncomfortably irrefutable that the convoluted history of the church since the second century has borne out that illustration.

8. Walvoord, John F., Donald K. Campbell and Roy B. Zuck, eds. Chafer Systematic Theology — Abridged. Wheaton: Victor, 1988. This edition, although greatly abridged, is the one currently in greater circulation.

9. Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974.

10.Pentecost p199

11. ibid. pp293-94

12. Zaretsky p37

13. Pentecost p273

14. ibid. p214

15. ibid. p110

16. ibid. p201

17. Zaretsky p54

18. Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology. Vol. 6:p83. As quoted in Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology. Tustin: Ariel, 1993.

19. Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. Israelology. Tustin: Ariel, 1993. p630

20. Walvoord, et al. Vol. 2: p243

21 ibid. p417

22. Pentecost pp120-21

23. ibid. pp126-7

24. These pillars are a literal hermeneutic, upon which rests the distinction between Israel and the church. The third pillar is the glorification of God. See Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today. Chicago: Moody, 1996. p44

25. House, H. Wayne. Ed. Israel the Land and the People. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1998. p10

26. Fruchtenbaum p564

The Remnant of Israel in the Church Age:
Theological and Practical Considerations for the Church Part #3

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 Hebrews’ living record of God's interaction and program for both Jewish and Gentile people throughout history.

The purpose of Sojourner Ministries’ 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. Ger’s surname. In Hebrew, the word "ger"(Hebrew writing4) means sojourner or wanderer. This particular "wandering" Jew’s 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 Christ’s 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
World Wide Website: Sojourner Ministries

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