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Grace Bible Church

Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries

The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.

The Tree of Life for week ending 04/07/02.

The Mysteries behind the Similarities between Israel and the Church. Part 2.

We are noting the similarities between Israel as new racial species and the Church as the new spiritual species. So far we have seen that God created each of these new species for historical impact. 

Israel was created for a visible historical impact in the Old Testament (age of Israel) and in the Millennium through their client nation function.

The Church was created for an invisible historical impact during the Church-age and the times of the Gentiles.

Israel is certainly the center of controversy in the world today, this is important for us to note because of two reasons:

First, because we need to observe the times we are living in. Our Lord told His disciples this in Mat 24 when they asked Him to tell them of the time of His return.  Here our Lord begins to reveal some of the signs that would take place before His second coming.

He mentions a few of them beginning in MAT 24:4-7 And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ and will deceive many. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for {those things} must take place, but {that} is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes."

We also studied Daniel 12 concerning the coming of The Lord Jesus Christ for the second time and we saw that explosion of travel and education would take place, DAN 12:4, "Keep this prophecy a secret; seal it up so that it will not be understood until the end times, when travel and education shall be vastly increased!"
In all of history, the vast increase in travel has come just in the last half century with the explosion of both ground and air transportation.
We are told of a new world order in, Rev 13. Increased centralization of world financial and political power is part of the groundwork to the soon-coming world power system of the Antichrist, who will be the incarnation of Satan and who will deceive most of the world.

So, it is important for us to note that Israel is the center of controversy in the world today because we need to observe the times we are living in.

Secondly, we are getting ready for the next two dispensations, the Tribulation and the Millennium, both of which focus in on the Jew, the new racial species.
The Lord Jesus Christ taught that only those who have spiritual illumination and discernment from the Holy Spirit could hope to understand the trends and meanings of history.
In Mat 16, the Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven, but He answered by telling them, You can read the signs of the weather in the sky, but because of spiritual blindness you cannot read the signs of the times.

Israel is the new racial species and they are getting ready for being the center of the next two dispensations, the Tribulation and the Millennium.  The United States is at present God's client nation representing the Church or the new spiritual species in the present dispensation, the Church-age.
Israel's future as a part of the Abrahamic covenant is given in the Bible in far more accuracy and preciseness than what current day Media can give us, ZEC 12:1-9.

We have been noting that each new species is also a witness for the prosecution in Satan's appeal trial in the angelic conflict. We have noted the basic premise that a trial has three phases.

First, there is the formal presentation of the case: the prosecution presents its case, followed by the defense presenting its case. In the angelic conflict the prosecution is God. The defense is Satan and the fallen angels!
The formal presentation of Satan's appeal trial corresponds to Old Testament history with basically the Jews as a race and Israel as a nation as the center of the conflict. The trial phase begins with the fall of man in the garden and continues until the beginning of the dispensation of the Hypostatic Union.
Next is the rebuttal phase where the rebuttal arguments of the prosecution [God] followed by the rebuttal arguments of the defense [Satan] are heard.
Finally comes the closing argument and summary, first by the prosecution [God] and then by the defense [Satan].

The fact that human history is similar to what we call a courtroom trial is brought out by many passages and principles from the word of God.
The fact that an appeal was filed with God is presumed from the lapse of time between the sentence of fallen angels (MAT 25:41) in eternity past and the execution of that sentence at the termination of human history (REV 20:10). 
Between the passing of the sentence in eternity past and the execution of that sentence at the end of the Millennium, an appeal trial is occurring in human history. 
Any believer can be a vital part of that appeal trial. This is why we have the doctrine of angelic observation, LUK 15:7,10; 1TI 3:16; 1CO 4:9; EPH 3:10; 1TI 5:21; 1PE 1:12.

In the Old Testament, God basically used the new racial species, the Jew as His witness. In the New Testament, God uses the new spiritual species, the Church, as His witness.
In the Old Testament, God basically called upon the new racial species, the Jew, to bring glory to Him. This is why in Hebrews chapter 11 we have God's hall of fame for the Old Testament believers. Verses 33 - 40 tell of them and things they accomplished by means of doctrine resident in their soul, their spiritual preparation. These verses tell of how these believers conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness or justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions and quenched the power of fire.
It says that these Jewish witnesses quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated they wandered in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

But the Word of God says that And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
God foresaw and provided a better thing for us in order that without us (believers in the present dispensation) they would not be perfected or completed. This means that they would not receive their resurrection bodies before us. As Church age believers, by means of the rapture, the resurrection or translation of all believers of the Mystery-age, will precede these heroes of past dispensations in resurrection, 1CO 15:23, 1TH 4:16-17.

Although they preceded us chronologically in history, the Church-age believer will precede them in resurrection, this is the plan and the grace of God!

HEB 11:40-12:1, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

The Greek word for witnesses is martus and it means a witness in a legal sense, to testify as eyewitnesses or of a character reference for one being questioned. It refers to those, who after our Lord's example, have proved the strength and genuineness of their faith in Christ by undergoing suffering or even death.

So in HEB 12:1-3 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses [Old Testament winners from the new racial species, the Jew] surrounding us, let us [New Testament spiritual species, the church] also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, be concentrating on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.

We have used the term "Dispensations" which are divine categories of human history; therefore, both the divine outline and the divine interpretation of human history.  They are the vehicle by which believers living at a specific time in history can orient to God's will, plan, and purpose for their lives. God's plan is not the same for every dispensation, in fact, the plan is quite different in each dispensation. We do not sacrifice animals like they did in the Old Testament, we are not under the Mosaic Law, etc.

A Christocentric dispensation, of which there are only two in human history, is where Christ lives inside of man, these are the dispensations of the hypostatic union and the Church-age. This is why we read in 1TI 3:16, And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Beheld by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.

These two dispensations or periods of time are when God presents His case and reveals His justice and righteousness and love. His justice is revealed by His fairness in dealing with the fall of mankind and by judging sin. His righteousness is revealed by the fact that He was willing to forsake His own Son while judging sin. His love is revealed by the fact that He offered salvation to anyone who would believe upon The Lord Jesus Christ. This means that there are two categories of main witnesses, a third which us not needed but added by God, is Christian marriage.
Our Lord and the invisible heroes of the Church-age are the two main witnesses for the prosecution in this trial. Remember that the laws of evidence found in the Bible demand investigation of each accusation. Legitimate evidence is based on two or three witnesses being interrogated independently and agreeing to their testimony.

There are similarities between the two new species, both the racial Jew and the new spiritual species, the church, originates from a category of biblical death.

Israel originated from Abraham's sexual death, ROM 4:17-21; HEB 11:11-12.  

The church originates from the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the union with the substitutionary spiritual death of Christ on the cross.

It's also interesting to note that each new species was formed from a significant event in history connected with circumcision. The new racial species is related to the circumcision of Abraham at age 99. The new spiritual species is created through circumcision as well but it is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit at salvation which began on the day of Pentecost. The baptism of the Spirit at salvation and the resultant positional sanctification is the only circumcision of the Church Age.

COL 2:11, And in Him [positional truth and sanctification with Christ] you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;

This verse should be translated by the renunciation of the body or the flesh - referring to the old sin nature which indwells the body.

The phrase by the circumcision of Christ refers to your retroactive positional truth. This means that the day that you believed, you were identified with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection.

COL 2:12-13, having been buried with Him not in baptism but by means of the baptism [of the Spirit], in which [baptism, that is the spiritual baptism] you were also raised up with Him  [our current positional truth] through faith in not the working but in the operational power of God who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh [our OSN, which inevitably we need to be cut off from], He [God the Father] made you alive together with Him [TLJC and our positional sanctification], having forgiven us all of our transgressions,

This means that the spiritual circumcision of being entered into union with Christ is the sign of the new spiritual species, "a circumcision made or performed without human hands, as COL 2:11 says.

Physical circumcision was cutting off of a part of the flesh as a symbol of a covenant relationship with God and His people.

In COL 2:11, spiritual circumcision is "removal of, not a part of the body, but, the entire body of the flesh" or the OSN. "The body of the flesh" is the physical body controlled by the old sin nature that everyone possesses and the removal of it is positional truth, the truth that arises as a result of the believer being placed in Christ by the Spirit's baptizing work.

Because the sin nature was judged by Christ in His death, so the believer by virtue of his union and identification with Christ shares that "removal" that Christ accomplished, just as he shares Christ's fullness and is declared to be"complete" in Him, COL 2:10.

So the believer's circumcision is not only a spiritual reality consisting in the putting off of the body of the flesh; it is more precisely Christ's circumcision, effected by Him and imputed to the believer.

Our Lord's circumcision has no reference to His physical circumcision, LUK 2:21, when He was eight days old, but is a meaningful term that the apostle applies to Christ's death towards the entire sin nature.

There is no sin nature without the male phallus because it is the male phallus that is the instrument that passes down the old sin nature to both the male and female.

The important definition to note in COL 2:11 is the phrase "the removal of the flesh" which is literally the "cutting away" of the flesh. Remember one of the meanings behind circumcision is that fact that it was a ritual which was related to Abraham's spiritual growth. Circumcision represented the ultimate expression of spiritual growth in the life of Abraham. Because he had grown up spiritually, he was ready to become the father of the Jewish race.

However, under the principle of the uniqueness of the Church-age, our spiritual circumcision is based upon the fact that we do not have to wait to become a mature believer like Abraham did, because we are in union with Christ and we share in His circumcision. Spiritual circumcision applies to every member of the body of Christ. It does not imply eradication of the flesh in this life but it does indicate that by union with Christ the believer in time is delivered from the power and the authority of the OSN. Our flesh, or our OSN has been cut off positionally from us at the moment of salvation.

This is why we have such commands and directions as in ROM 8:3-4, For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

At the moment of salvation, spiritual circumcision means that we were positionally cut off from the flesh or the OSN.

Therefore, the apostle warns us in ROM 8:8, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

This does not refer to sin but human good performed by the flesh. No matter how hard we try and how good the deeds may appear on the outside, we can never please God when you operate in your flesh because our flesh is dead! It was crucified with Christ on the cross and the only thing that our dead flesh can produce is dead works.
We have a responsibility and we have an obligation which Paul defines for us in ROM 8:12-13, So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh, For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
The apostle Paul gives us the reason why we had to have a spiritual circumcision or be separated from our flesh inGAL 5:17, For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

All believers have a circumcision and this circumcision relates to the OSN, our circumcision says that never again are we to depend on the OSN.

When we understand how circumcision relates to retroactive positional truth, then we will take the same position that God took with regard to His plan.  There is nothing that man can do, no plan that man can dream up, no thinking, no doing, no action, no giving up of anything, no taking on anything, no energy of the flesh, that is a part of the plan of God.

The tragedy of our day is that Christianity in it's apostasy is strictly energy of the flesh, human gimmicks, human good.

They were all rejected at the cross and all rejected at the point of salvation with the spiritual circumcision when you were entered into union with Christ.

When this is not understood, we have all the nonsense of salvation by works, which is a false doctrine that rejects God's grace policy in the provision of eternal salvation for the human race. Salvation by works rejects the total helplessness of mankind under real spiritual death. Real spiritual death not only means separation from God at birth and total depravity, but it also means helplessness to do anything about our status quo.

Salvation by works makes the distinction between Christianity and religion.
In Christianity, mankind is eternally saved through the work of God., EPH 2:8, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and not of yourself, the gift from God.  God the Father planned it, God the Son executed it on the cross, and God the Holy Spirit reveals it.

In religion, man seeks to gain the approbation of God through some category of human works, self-sacrifice, personality, or energy of the flesh.

Always remember that Christianity is not a religion.  

In Christianity, God does the work and man is the beneficiary apart from any merit or any works.

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