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Holy Convocations – May 16th
“And the scripture, foreseeing that God
would justify the Gentiles by faith,
preached the gospel to Abraham before-
hand, saying, “In you all the nations shall
In recent years a number church convocations have come to conclusions that are unbiblical but widely believed in Christian circles. The first was the special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Catholic Bishops convened in 2010. Speaking of Israel’s place among the nations they concluded that, “the Abrahamic Covenant has been annulled.” By doing this they can remove Israel’s divine right to the land of Canaan and to Jerusalem. Naturally, if this be true, then Israel enjoys no biblical significance, her modern day restoration is an accident of history and she takes her place amongst the nations of the earth like any other. God has no more purpose for her than He does for Zambia or Switzerland!
The second convocation was that of the Lausanne Conference of Evangelicals that gathered in Cape Town also in 2010. They agreed entirely with the Bishops of Rome in that their pre-conference statement noted that… “we strongly believe that the separate and privileged place given to Jewish people today or to the modern Israeli state in certain forms of dispensationalism or Christian Zionism, should be challenged, inasmuch as they deny the essential oneness of the people of God in Christ.” Thankfully, after this convocation and because of much pressure, they altered this statement to reflect a more open and neutral view on the matter. However, it is to be noted that to believe in a national destiny for the Jewish people in the land of Canaan does not in any way deny the “essential oneness of the people of God in Christ” because we believe that all people be they Jew or Gentile can only be saved by appropriating by faith the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
The third convocation is the one just recently held by the Church of Scotland in 2013. This convocation not only stated that Israel’s modern day restoration has no biblical significance but it went on to cast doubt on the historical veracity of the Abrahamic Covenant thus implying that at no time in history did it guarantee Canaan as a homeland for the Jewish people! This abuse of scripture by this gathering of so called learned clergy is breathtaking to say the least; especially in the light of Genesis 17:7-8 and Psalm 105:7-12.
Once again, simply put, this means that for these church movements Israel’s modern day restoration enjoys no biblical significance whatsoever. Christians can and should ignore it and move on to more important spiritual things. The Catholic Bishops were at least honest in that they recognized that to hold their position on Israel they have to define the “battle ground.” That is, they must declare the Abrahamic Covenant entirely obsolete and abolished by God Himself. There is just one problem for them in this regard and that is that scripture nowhere says it. It is an argument from silence and wishful thinking!
In fact, if anything, the New Testament scriptures everywhere affirm the ongoing efficacy of this covenant even going so far as to declare that it cannot be annulled (Galatians3:17), that it constitutes an example to believers of God’s truthfulness and unswerving faithfulness (Hebrews6:13-20) and that the finished work of Jesus on the cross was to make good its promises (Galatians3:9; 13-14;). Indeed, if we are Christ’s we are “Abraham’s children according to the promise (covenant).” (Galatians3:29)
Moreover, I know of no Christian Zionist who affords a privileged place to Jews or Israel. If anything, the call of God over the Jewish people was never a “privileged place” but a place of servant hood, suffering and rejection for the sake of the world! As a gentile believer in Christ Jesus I would not want their role in history, but truly I have been eternally enriched by it because “salvation is of the Jews”, “we share in their spiritual things” and from them “Christ came who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”
To assert then that, since Jesus’ coming, the Abrahamic Covenant has been abolished or somehow reconstructed is quite frankly theological ineptitude! The scriptures nowhere support this theory. In fact, if accepted, these convocations are guilty of the very theological position that they claim to be against! That is, they are guilty of being dispensationalists because they endorse the movement of one plan of God to another throughout history. This is classic dispensationalism! We reject dispensationalism in all its forms because there has only and forever been one plan of God for the salvation of the whole world (Revelation13:8). This plan was unveiled and promised in the Abrahamic Covenant which, according to Paul was the first and foundational proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus. (Galatians3:8) The fact that this saving initiative also promised land as an everlasting possession to the Jewish people (Genesis17:8-9) has always “stuck in the throat” of many people and groups. (Nehemiah2:19-20; 4:1-3; 6:1-2)
The fact is; all nations are blessed and saved by faith in the finished work of Jesus because of the peculiar servant role that Israel has played out on their behalf. A calling that Paul admits is irrevocable! (Romans11:29) For this role or call to be removed the Abrahamic Covenant has to be removed but, if that ever happens and it will not, God’s decision to save the world also has to be removed! It is worthy of note that, years after Israel’s rejection of Jesus’ Messianic credentials, the writer of the book of Hebrews holds up the Abrahamic Covenant to wavering Jewish believers as an example of God’s faithfulness to his word, character and promises. Apparently he was wrong!
The Lausanne Conference, the Catholic Bishops and the Church of Scotland are not only guilty of dispensationalism but of also casting doubt over the character of God in that He has lied! But God is not a man that He should lie. (Numbers 23:19) (Titus 1:2) They have thereby disqualified themselves from participating in one of the most remarkable acts of God in history and have failed to “rightly divide” the word of God. One wonders whether the pressure of having to be politically correct has caused them to do this?
It needs to be borne in mind that the position held by Christian Zionists today was also held by great Christian leaders throughout history including the Wesley’s, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Bishop Ryle of Liverpool, Professor Jacob Janeway of the Scottish National Church, Robert Murray McCheyne, Sir Isaac Newton, the early church leaders, as reflected by the documents of the early church, and many thousands more down to the present time.
That we are, and all should be, concerned about issues of justice and righteousness in the Middle East and elsewhere is a given. We should be committed to the “whole counsel of God” and are. However, I want to know why these church convocations have abandoned the people of South Sudan where two million Christians, in the last decade and more, were killed at the hands of Muslims and why they have said and done nothing about the “forgotten war” in central Africa that has thus far claimed the lives of four million people? And, what of the thousands of Christians who are being murdered across the Middle East and Africa today by Muslims not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Muslims that are being murdered by their fellow Muslims in Libya, Syria and Iraq? Obviously righteousness and justice for these convocations is a matter of “special selection.” Or, are these people left without hope because, in most cases, they are African?