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Salvation: Israel's and Ours

Article by Bill Petri

 

One of the most important dispensational facts we must realize is that Israel and the Body of Christ view salvation in different ways. By comparing how Israel views their salvation with how we in the Body of Christ view our salvation will clear up a lot of misunderstanding people have about this important doctrine. Let us compare how both view salvation. Israel viewed their spiritual salvation as a future hope.

Ezekiel 36:22-25

Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. [23] And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. [24] For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

[25] Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

Acts 3:19

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

Romans 11:26-27

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.

An individual Jew viewed his salvation in the context of the salvation of the nation. This is a point that we shall address in some detail in the chapter dealing with confession. For now, these verses show a rudimentary understanding of this principle. However, the Body of Christ views it's spiritual salvation as a present possession.

1 Cor. 1:18

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

1 Cor. 15:1-4

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; [2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Ephes. 1:13-14

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Hence, our spiritual salvation is not a future hope, it is a present reality! Unfortunately, many dear saints fail to see this. That is why they think that they have to wait for the Holy Ghost. They simply do not understand the difference between their salvation and Israel's salvation. The differences between Israel and the Body of Christ don't just end with this one point.

Although Israel's spiritual salvation is a future event, they were at times made possessors of physical salvation.

Exodus 14:13-14

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. [14] The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

2 Chron. 20:17

Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.

Psalm 34:7

The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

Israel's ultimate physical salvation will come in the promised future earthly kingdom. This promise of an earthly kingdom is given to Israel, and not to the Body of Christ.

Ezekiel 36:26-28

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. [27] And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. [28] And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Jeremiah 33:10-16

Thus saith the Lord; Again there shall be heard in this place, which ye say shall be desolate without man and without beast, even in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without man, and without inhabitant, and without beast, [11] The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord. [12] Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Again in this place, which is desolate without man and without beast, and in all the cities thereof, shall be an habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down. [13] In the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the vale, and in the cities of the south, and in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, shall the flocks pass again under the hands of him that telleth them, saith the Lord. [14] Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.

[15] In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. [16] In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.

Under the Old Covenant (the Mosaic), obedience brought immediate physical salvation. Under the New Covenant, the physical salvation will be the result of the new heart and empowering of the Holy Spirit.

Although the Body of Christ presently possesses spiritual salvation, our physical salvation is still a future hope.

Romans 8:22-25

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. [24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? [25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

1 Cor. 15:51-56

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. [55] O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? [56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

Hence, we have hope of physical salvation, but it is not a present possession. Saints who do not understand "right division" wait for God to deliver them out of all their physical distress, and then get discouraged when it does not happen. It is sad to see so many dear people lose heart by clinging to promises that are not theirs. It would be like me receiving your paycheck. I have the promissory note, but I can never cash it, because it is a promissory note to you and not me. We can now safely make the following conclusions:

Israel - Present - physical salvation with obedience

Future - spiritual salvation in the Earthly Kingdom

Body of Christ - Present - spiritual salvation.

Future - physical salvation at the rapture.

One very important foundation truth we must realize is that their is one requirement for receiving salvation which has never changed in any dispensation. The one thing God has always required from man is faith.

Genesis 15:6

And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Romans 1:17

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

All men in all dispensations must approach God in an attitude of faith in order to be accepted by Him. Just as faith is always the basis for acceptance by God, unbelief is always the basis for rejection by God.

John 3:18

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

2 Thes. 2:12

That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Rev. 21:8

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

If a person fails to accept, by faith, what God says (in their dispensational setting), they cannot be saved. Faith is not an act of merit, it is simply a positive response to what God says. Failure to respond, or a negative answer shows no faith. Although faith is an interdispensational issue, the object in which that faith is placed is different in different dispensations. Faith believes the message that God gives for any particular dispensation, regardless of what the message is. Let us look at some examples of this.

1.) Abel:

Hebrews 11:4

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

Therefore, Abel was justified by faith + works (offering a very specific offering). Abel's faith was placed in God's willingness to accept a blood sacrifice of an animal (his work) for sin.

Genesis 4:3-7

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. [4] And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: [5] But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. [6] And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? [7] If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Cain was not accepted because he failed to exercise his faith correctly in his dispensational setting. Cain had faith that God would accept his offering (read very carefully verse 5). The problem with Cain's faith is that it didn't manifest itself with the correct response towards God, and therefore it was rejected by God. How many people today think they are saved because they have faith in God, but they have failed to believe what God has said today for salvation? It is not good enough to believe in God. The Devil believes in God. We must believe what God says to us in our Dispensational setting. Therefore, we see the importance of "rightly dividing the word of truth."

2.) Abraham

Genesis 15:6

And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Here we see that God responds to Abraham's heart. Abraham believed, therefore God reckoned. Even under Israel's legal system, people had to have faith to go with their works, because one without the other was not good enough.

3.) Israel

Psalm 51:18-19

Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. [19] Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

James 2:14

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

James 2:20

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

James 2:24

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Hence, Israel had to have faith in what God said. The faith would then compel Israel to do the work that was required for them to do to attain salvation. Failure to do the correct work would produce condemnation.

4.) The Body of Christ

Romans 4:4-5

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

1 Cor. 15:1-4

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; [2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Today, we in the Body of Christ are saved by simply believing that "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" We cannot do anything. Hence, unlike some of the examples we looked at, there is no work for us to do. The Romans text shows me that belief is not a work. If I add or subtract anything to this message, I have made it vain, just as Cain made his gospel message vain. People do this all the time. How many people will tell you that you have to baptized, or confess, or ask Jesus into your heart, or believe Jesus is Lord, or make Jesus king of your life, etc. The truth is that none of these things qualify as a saving gospel for you today in this present Dispensation of the Grace of God. They do not qualify because they all require me to do something, and Romans is clear that our gospel has nothing to do with you doing anything. In fact, your doing something makes the gospel a vain gospel.

Faith is a constant, but what faith requires may change. Man must always approach God in faith. However, what that approach of faith requires has changed from one dispensation to another. In order to be accepted by God, we must approach Him in His prescribed way for the dispensation in which we live. Failure to do so can only produce God's condemnation.

We have seen that the Body of Christ has a very unique gospel with very unique requirements. Let us be ever mindful of the Apostle Paul's words:

2 Cor. 11:3-4

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. [4] For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, (Jesus after the flesh, His earthly ministry, 2 Corinthians 5:16) whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, (Acts 2:4, we do not tarry for the Holy Spirit today, we have Him as a present possession until the Day we receive a new and glorified Body Ephesians 1:13-14. If we are waiting or tarrying for a Spirit today it is not the Holy Spirit.) which ye have not received, or another gospel, (Israel's gospel which included some element of the law, see Galatians 2:7 where we see the 12 Apostles had a gospel to Israel, and that Paul had a gospel to the Body of Christ. If we put ourselves back under the 12's authority we are preaching another gospel, and for this dispensation it is not a saving gospel!) which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

In this dispensation of God's grace, God justifies ungodly sinners by His Grace upon the ground of the shed blood of Jesus Christ through the means of faith. This complete salvation is bestowed as a free gift of God apart from works. Salvation is given to those who simply believe the gospel by a free will decision (let me restate that the gospel is 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

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