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Israel vs. The Body of Christ (pt.2)

The Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 4:4)

I. Purpose
As we saw in our study of the twofold purpose of God, the nation of Israel is God’s agent to reconcile the government of earth to Himself, but the Body of Christ is His agent to reconcile the heavens (Col. 1:16-20). Israel is God's earthly people. The Body of Christ is His heavenly people (Eph. 2:6-7; Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 3:1-4). The Body of Christ (one new spiritual man) was God’s plan before the foundation of the world, but He kept it secret since the world began until He revealed it to the apostle Paul (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:1-13).

II. Origin
The Body of Christ is God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:11), so technically it existed in the mind of God before the world began. There are a number of views concerning the historical beginning of the Body of Christ (Adam, Christ, Pentecost, mid-Acts with Paul’s salvation and ministry, Acts 28). This is an important issue because it has major doctrinal ramifications. We know it did not begin before the ascension of Christ, otherwise it would be a Headless Body (Eph. 1:20-22).

The most popular view among fundamentalists is that the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) was the birthday of the church. They believe that when the Holy Ghost was poured out on that day He began to form the spiritual Body of Christ. The church in Acts 2 did not begin in Acts 2. It was a prophesied Jewish church (Ps. 22:22 with Heb. 2:12; Matt. 16:18) that was looking for the kingdom to be established on the earth. Everything that happened in Acts 2 was in line with prophecy concerning Israel (Acts 2:16). Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, preached to Israel, calling on the nation to repent for killing their Messiah. The apostles were baptized with the Holy Ghost and did the signs and wonders of the kingdom they were preaching (“powers of the world to come,” Heb. 6:5). There is a difference between the prophesied baptism WITH the Holy Ghost for power (Acts 1:4-8) and the mystery baptism BY the Spirit into the Body of Christ for salvation. 

If we know how a person gets in the Body of Christ, we can know when it began historically. We get into the Body of Christ by believing the gospel that Christ revealed first to Paul (Eph. 3:6; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Gal. 1:11-12). The Body of Christ is made up of all believers in this present age of grace. It is neither Jew nor Gentile, but one new spiritual man (Gal. 3:27-28). All who are in the Body of Christ are in Christ, but not all who are in Christ are in the Body of Christ. Israel will be "in Christ" when they are saved under the New Covenant (Isa. 45:17). In the eternal state all things will be gathered together in Christ (Eph. 1:10), but there will still be a distinction between Israel and the Body of Christ. 

The age of grace began with a glorious appearing when the message of grace came down (Acts 9), and it will end with a glorious appearing when those who believed that message will be caught up (1 Thess. 4:17; Titus 2:13). It seems clear to me that Paul taught that this present age of grace began with his salvation and ministry (1 Cor. 3:10-11; 1 Tim. 1:12-16). 

III. Program

God deals with Israel according to covenants, but He deals with us under grace (Rom. 6:14). Of course, God has grace in His dealings with Israel (Jer. 31:2), but there is a difference between grace in a dispensation and a dispensation of grace. Most believers today would be surprised to learn what the apostle Paul taught concerning our relation to the law. Most churches are legalistic because they do not recognize Paul as the divinely appointed pattern and spokesman for the Body of Christ to follow. The Pauline epistles are the most neglected books of the Bible in the average church today.

The book of Romans is the foundational book of doctrine for this age of grace. In Romans Paul systematically lays out the wonderful truth that we are justified AND sanctified by faith without the deeds of the law (by the faith OF Christ, Rom. 3:22). Paul wrote Galatians to correct the legalism that was creeping into the churches of Galatia and shows plainly that we cannot mix law and grace. We are saved by grace and we are to live our Christin life under grace. All religious denominations teach that you must do certain works to either be saved and/or to stay right with God.

In Romans and Galatians, the apostle Paul plainly states that:
1. We are NOT JUSTIFIED by the law (Rom. 3:19-28; Gal. 2:16)
2. We are NOT UNDER the law in our walk (Rom. 6:14; Gal. 5:18)
3. We ARE DEAD to the law (Rom. 7:1-4; Gal. 2:19)
4. We ARE DELIVERED from the law (Rom. 7:5-6; Gal. 5:1)

This is dispensational truth because it hasn’t always been this way. In time past, Israel was under the law. But now, in this present age, the Body of Christ is under grace. There was nothing wrong with the law, but it was an inferior system because of the weakness of the flesh (Rom. 7:7-14; 8:1-4). God has shown grace in every age, but this is the age of grace in which He is showing to a greater degree than ever (Rom. 5:20-21; 1 Tim. 1:14). We have a glorious standing in grace (Rom. 5:1-2). We are complete in Christ (Col. 2:10). We are accepted in the beloved (Eph. 1:6). We cannot earn God’s favor and blessings, we have it as a free gift through Jesus Christ.

IV. Destiny
We are predestinated to be glorified with Christ and to rule and reign with Him in heavenly places (Rom. 8:28-30; 2 Cor. 5:1; Eph. 2:6-7). We must be caught up before the 70th week of Daniel can begin (2 Thess. 2:6-7). Our rapture is imminent (Rom. 13:11-12; Phil. 4:5). 


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