And So All Israel Shall Be Saved

Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur

Image via Wikipedia

For some reason over the past couple years, people have found it incumbent upon them to ask what my views were on Israel. Yeah, right, as if you really wanted to know. * shakes head *

But evidently, they do. And they aren’t talking about my fascinating views on biblical government and Old Testament Israel (though there are a few nice people who listen to me ramble on about that), they want to know about what my views are on Israel as a nation in the current day scheme of things and in the future. * sigh *

This is one of the topics that I honestly avoid, actually, mainly because I haven’t found hardly anyone who agrees with me. 😛 But then, if I don’t talk about it… how do I know? Right.

So here I am, prodded at last into posting my views on this gnarly subject.

Before I launch in, though, I would like to establish a bit of common ground…

We all believe that anyone can be saved, right? That to do so, we call on the name of God? (You know what I mean by that.) Whether or not you are Calvinist, you should be able to agree with that on some level, since the Bible says so.

So we would all agree that no one will be saved merely because they have a specific ancestry, right?

Good. 🙂

(If you don’t, you probably won’t get much out of this article, but you can send me an email explaining why you think that if you want, though I might not answer with anything more than an “interesting,” haha.)

There are tons of places in the Bible that deal with this issue, and I can’t go through them all. Far from it. I won’t even be able to scrutinize the ones I do bring up in any great depth. Simply too much there, and too little time.

I would like to start off by quoting three passages that have a common phrase:

Acts 15:8-9 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

Romans 3:22-24 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Romans 10:11-13 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

These are only representative samples of a crucial theme throughout the Bible, because this is the heart of what the New Testament is. The New Testament’s glory is in its all embracing invitation: God’s kingdom is no longer a nation on earth – it now transcends national borders and lineages.

But what is Israel right now?

Matthew 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

It isn’t necessarily that nation over in Palestine or even descendants of Abraham… at least not fleshly.

Galatians 3:29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Now, there are two passages that are key to this subject, and they must be taken together. I would love to do a verse by verse commentary on them, but that will have to wait (I do actually plan on doing that someday, though). The first is Romans 10-11, and the other is Hebrews 8.

Romans 10:1-3 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

Paul is talking about the Israel everyone thinks of: the Israel of his fleshly kinsmen. This is made obvious by the context: they aren’t saved.

And then Paul explains what they are missing: they have a false trust.

Romans 10:11-13 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

They are trusting in their own righteousness that they have in and of themselves as Jews, rather than the righteousness of God through faith.

Romans 10:17-21 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

They were told, they knew, it was made clear to them, but they rejected it, and now, have lost it. They are no longer the nation of God.

Now here we get into some fascinating stuff.

Romans 11:1a I say then, Hath God cast away his people?

Paul asks a natural question: does this mean that now Jews can’t be saved (as some believe)?

Romans 11:1b God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Obviously God didn’t make it so that Jews can’t be saved… Paul is one!

Romans 11:2-5 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

There is a remnant of Jews who are saved… by grace through faith. Not just Paul. They are not a lost cause: they just need to change the object of their faith. Being a Jew doesn’t make them saved.

Romans 11:13-15 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles is actually also a ministry to the Jews: he hopes that by preaching to the Gentiles, he will provoke the Jews into listening to the Gospel. A Jew being saved is like life from the dead in a whole new way.

Romans 11:17-24 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

What is this tree? Well, obviously it isn’t the nation of the Jews, because we don’t become a part of the Jewish nation when we are saved… we become a part of Christ. And the Jews who aren’t saved don’t stop being a part of their lineage… they simply are not a part of God’s family.

John 15:1-2, 5 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

The tree here is the True Israel. The Kingdom of God, that is not of this world. We, being Gentiles, have become a part of it by faith, and those who were of it, who did not stand in faith, but instead stood on their lineage, were cast out (as a whole). They can still stand by faith, though, and become a part of the true Israel again.

Romans 11:26a And so all Israel shall be saved…

Ah, but some say in the future, the nation of of the Jews will turn en masse to God and be saved. And then in that future, God will work with them as a nation on Earth. They generally point to this phrase right here for their support of this idea.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), this is saying just the opposite.

Romans 11:26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

What is this covenant? What covenant did God make with Israel in which He said He would take away their sins? Now we turn to Hebrews 8 for the answer:

Hebrews 8:6-13 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

I highlighted some key phrases there, but the whole thing is one cohesive whole that needs to be read over and over and over again. Powerful and amazing passage, that.

Paul is looking back at a promise that God made with the Jews in the Old Testament. He said that the Jews would reject the covenant that they had, and that God would replace it with a new one… with a whole new system. In this system, the Kingdom of God is no longer based on lineage, but on faith. Everyone in the Kingdom of God, in the New Israel, will be righteous, made righteous by God himself, not by sacrifices and lineage.

And so… all Israel will be saved. Is saved, actually, because he is talking about now. He is talking about the New Testament. This is the New Covenant!

Romans 11:30-32 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

The Jews as a nation rejected God and His covenant, as prophesied. And because of that unbelief, God brought in the New Testament, bringing mercy upon the Gentiles. Upon us. He rejected lineage as a criteria for His kingdom, so that He could have mercy on everyone.

Romans 11:33-36 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

God Never Forgets

Scroll of the Psalms

Image via Wikipedia

I recently posted the above title as a status on Facebook, and several people immediately proved that it was a controversial statement.

Why?

Because it is commonly believed that when God forgives our sins, He remembers them no more, thus forgetting them, meaning that He blots them from His knowledge. So if you ask for forgiveness for something, and then ask again, He doesn’t know what you are talking about.

There are many variations of this belief, but the above summary is close enough to be representative, and is at least internally consistent.

I wasn’t able to respond at once, as I was completely busy that day, but the following morning I sat down and wrote out a Bible study on the issue, demonstrating my view on the matter. Here it is below, only slightly edited.

First off, someone mentioned Psalm 103:12 , which says:

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

This says nothing about God removing the knowledge of our sins from himself, it only says that He has removed them from us: He will not hold them against us in the eternal judgment of heaven or hell.

The problem is that people equivocate remembering something against someone, and forgetting the knowledge of something. Two very different things. If you try to say they are the same thing, then you are making a grave error about the nature of God.

God cannot choose to violate His own nature. He cannot contradict Himself. Either He is all-knowing or He is not. Either He is the judge of the Earth or He is not. Now examine these passages talking about this subject:

Psalms 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:

12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Hebrews 12:5-8 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

If we do wrong, ours sins are covered by the blood and do not condemn us to hell. However, they still bear us fruit: we have consequences still on Earth and in Heaven. We cannot escape them: they are inevitable, incalculable, and up to God. God is our judge, and He teaches us and trains us, punishing us in love for our sins and rewarding us in joy for our obedience. He cannot do this blindly: He must know our sins and weigh them justly.

If you say that those passages are all referring to God knowing about our sins before we ask for forgiveness for them, and not after, then you are saying that we have to confess every sin to God to be forgiven for them, and thus if we do not have perfect memories and complete knowledge of our hearts (something impossible for us to have) we cannot be saved. Once we are saved, God forgives us for all sins, past, present, and future, covering them in the blood. If that means to blot them from His knowledge, then the Scripture is lying in the above passages, for they say that He knows about the sins of His children.

Genesis 8:1 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;

Genesis 9:15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Genesis 9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

Does God need a memory aid? Is He in danger of forgetting about us? No! Far from it! When God talks about remembering things, He is not talking about keeping from losing the knowledge of them. He is talking about something very different.

Psalms 25:6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.

Does God forget Himself? Does He ever lose track of the grand and glorious fact that He is merciful and loving above everything else in existence? No! God forbid!

Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Hebrews 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Revelation 18:5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

Ah, here we go, this is where people get the idea that God has blotted out His own knowledge of our sins to such a degree that He doesn’t know what we are talking about if we ask Him to forgive us twice. But what is God talking about when He says ‘remember’?

Look it up! What does remember mean?

There are 15 definitions of remember in Webster’s 1828 dictionary. Only two have any connection with forgetfulness, and they aren’t even the first definitions. Almost all the ones that he drew from the Bible (over ten of the fifteen) have no connection at all with forgetfulness, but rather with priority, respect, esteem, obedience, and things like that.

The idea that to ‘not remember’ something is to blot it from your knowledge is completely fallacious and contrary to Scripture. Look at this definition, specifically referenced to Scripture:

To bear in mind with intent to reward or punish. 3 John 10. Jer. 31.

What are those passages? Here they are:

3 John 1:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

Jeremiah 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Nothing to do with forgetting, everything to do with bringing to judgment.

If you look at the list of definitions for remember and then go look at all the mentions in the Bible of the word, you will be awed at the power and depth of the word, when used properly. Without its true definition (which you can discern without a dictionary, just from looking at the Scriptures themselves), you end up with a very very wrong doctrine.

God never forgets.

God does not bring the remembrance of our sins before us to condemn us to hell.

God remembers His mercy and love to think on our sins and guide us out of them, showing them to us and chastening us for them.

In other words: God never forgets what He forgives.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments. I didn’t, of course, go through all the passages that mention this subject, so if you want you can bring up other ones that seem to support one or other view of the subject. The comment was long enough as it is, haha. 😉

I Almost Hate to Post This

Greetings and Sincere Felicitations,

As many of you know, I am not a Calvinist. I harbor no ill-will towards those of you who are Calvinists, and I do not disassociate with those who believe in TULIP. I am still your friend, although I may differ greatly with you on several key points of doctrine.

I wanted to say that before I continued with this post so that y’all can’t come back at me later saying that I am attacking you. Nothing could be further from the truth. I sincerely love you, but I also sincerely hate the doctrines that you espouse.

Calvinism is a far reaching set of doctrines. It spreads and influences practically everything, and it creates a difficult atmosphere for those of us who aren’t Calvinists, as many of the fundamental aspects of various disciplines (politics, government, fantasy writing, etc.) are dramatically effected by whether one believes in TULIP or not.

As such, to perhaps explain some of my odd beliefs, I am posting this playlist of videos (a nine part series detailing why I and many others do not believe in TULIP).

Have Fun!

What Love is This?

Oh, just a side note, I am not Arminian either. 🙂