Are Christians part of Israel? I have briefly addressed this on my blog and on other online posts, but some people are still struggling with the concept that Christians are part of Israel. So let me come at this from another angle.
Some Christians say that they are the ones who interpret the Bible literally, and because Israel is a literal flesh and blood people that inhabited the land of promise, we have to limit the name of Israel to this nation, it cannot apply to the Church. This Israel was a real nation God brought out of Egypt.
Hosea the prophet tells us: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son” (Hos. 11:1).
Here the prophet is talking about a literal event: the nation of Israel being called out of Egypt. We call this the Exodus, and it is the central salvation event of the Old Testament. Yet the Apostle Matthew applies it this way,
“13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son”.
Matthew says this passage in Hosea is a prophecy about Jesus, the Son of God. It is still a literal event, Jesus literally came out of Egypt, but it shows Israel is not just a nation, Jesus himself is the true Israel, the true Son of the Father. So already we see from this passage that Israel is more than just a literal nation.
Now consider this, when we are saved from our sins and become Christians we become co-heirs of Christ, and are adopted as sons of God,
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him”.
Let me say it again, at salvation, we become full-fledged sons of God. Paul says sons in verse 14, because this is a biblical (and ancient) terminology meaning we get all the rights and privileges of an heir. To be made a son is to be made an important heir, like the Son himself. What an amazing and incredible gift from God. We don’t deserve this, we did not earn it, it is a free gift to all who believe in the name of Jesus Christ.
This means Christ is also our brother through adoption. We read in Hebrews,
“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying, ‘I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise’.
We are adopted into the family of God, we are made full-fledged members of his family, and Christ is our brother through that adoption. Now remember, he is an Israelite, so we are therefore adopted into Israel. To be the brother of an Israelite is to be an Israelite. To be in Christ is to be in Israel. This is the privilege of every Christian, no matter where they come from.
This is not a work of the flesh, but of the Spirit who through grace makes us co-heirs and brothers of Jesus plus also members of Israel. And because we are members of Israel, we are also heirs of all the promises to Israel which are claimed by the Son, Jesus Christ, the true Israel.
I hope this is helpful for people. I also hope this excites you, because such is the great mercy of God that he would take Gentiles, who were far from him, and make those of us who believe in him full co-heirs with the Son of God. Wow!!! This is an incredible privilege and gift and no one has the right to tell you that you do not have this privilege, just because you don’t have the right genes or parents.
What this also shows us is that Replenishment theology is the correct position on God’s people. To illustrate this, God’s people are likened to branches on a tree throughout scripture. God doesn’t replace the tree, but he also does not let the dead branches remain in the tree. He cuts out the dead branches and grafts in new branches. All based on faith,
“15 I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned”.
“17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root[c] of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you”.
These passages teach precisely the same important truth, that the tree is a firm foundation and branches must be in the tree and have faith and bear fruit to remain in the tree. If not they will be cut out.
Replacement theology (a term coined in the 1980s) is a slur that some Christians use to criticize those who teach in line with the scriptures that the Church is Israel. Those who use this term misunderstand the historic position of the church. The historic position of the church is that the tree = Israel. Christ is the true Israel. All who are in Christ are in Israel. Branches that do not bear the fruit of faith are cut out, and branches that bear fruit are grafted in. The tree is always preserved.
Our heavenly Father is called the vinedresser or gardener for that reason. He prunes the vine, he trims the tree, replenishing it continually. Good gardeners do this.
So, if you believe in Jesus rejoice and again I say rejoice. For your salvation is an incredible gift and privilege. God makes us his heirs of promise, he makes us co-heirs with Jesus, the true Israel and he grafts all who believe into the people of God, Israel. Let no one tell you otherwise. This is a great privilege, but also a great responsibility.