Jesus, our Master Builder, is building his temple and his priesthood and we have looked at each of these. Today we look at his work to fashion a holy chosen people. God’s plan of salvation has always included a remnant from among every nation, tribe and tongue. God’s seeking and calling this people is the central theme of the Bible, running from “In the beginning” to the last “Amen.”
1 Peter 2:9f says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
The New Testament is replete with references to a holy people chosen, called and redeemed by Christ. There is confusion on the part of some about just who is referenced as the people of God. There are those who hold that there are two peoples of God—national Israel and the church. These two peoples are being redeemed by Christ, one through grace and the other through the law. The Dispensational framework has hordes of followers in this country and to oppose it can make one seem out of the mainstream. There was a time when this was not so. The Dispensational division of the people of God didn’t come into being until the early nineteenth century. Prior to that, consensus held that in Christ there was one people—Jews and Gentiles accepting Christ were joined together into one body.
This view, known as Replacement Theology, has been unjustly blamed for centuries of antisemitism in the church. It has gotten to the point that many seeing the difficulties with Dispensationalism are afraid to consider the alternative, fearing the appearance of bigotry. Personally, I hate the name Replacement Theology because it implies one people has replaced another. The Dispensationalist is wrong because he claims there are two peoples while scripture tells us there is only one. Replacement Theology is a poor phrase because the Church did not replace Israel, but fulfilled everything about her. Yes, I did say everything. Every promise made to national Israel was fulfilled in Christ and the church.
In Romans 9-11 Paul says Israel rejected their messiah. This rejection was foreseen by the Old Testament prophets. Paul quotes Isaiah in Romans 9:27, “though the number of Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.” This part of Israel that is saved, are those who came to Jesus Christ as their savior. God was replacing their old covenant with a new permanent covenant. To reject this was to reject a covenant relationship with God; those who rejected were cut off like branches from a tree. Peter in Acts 4:23 said, in keeping with the Mosaic promise, those who rejected Jesus were completely cut off from their people: those who rejected Christ were lost to Israel; those who continue in this rejection are likewise lost. Only through Christ can they come to the father.
Those who accepted Christ remained among the covenant people with new brothers and sisters coming into the family—gentile converts to Christ. Being part of the people of God no longer has to do with physical lineage. While Jesus was dying for our sins my ancestors were hoping to be gathered by the Valkyrie into Valhalla. Like all Christians they were chosen by Christ and delivered from their ignorance, not because of anything good or promising within them but simply because he has the right and power to chose.
Anyone who has come to Christ has been joined into the one and only redeemed people of God where “there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” Thank God for saving you and bringing you into his people—his family.