Understanding The Bible
We have set forth individual election and the key election of Christ. The perspective will not be Biblically complete until we face up to the special election of a chosen earthly people, national Israel, and the special election of a chosen heavenly people, the true and universal Church.
By the former we mean only the nation Israel about which God covenanted with Abraham. By the latter we mean only the universal Church Jesus called "My Church," Matt 16:18.
We do not wish to go far a field from the doctrine of election but a few introductory words will prove relevant to the distinctions between the two corporate groups.
They have different origins. Israel originated at a new divine start after Babel, Gen 11-12. The Church originated after Christ ascended and was seated at the right hand of the Father, Acts 1-2; Ephesians.
They will have different culminations. God will save and regather a remnant of Israel to their land of Palestine to close the Great Tribulation or Time of Jacob's Trouble, Jer 30:4-7; Matt 24:15-35. Israel will then be the international center of the Christ's earthly Kingdom from the Heavens, Matt 4:17; Isa 2:1-4. On the other hand, the entire believing Church will be raptured In any moment the Lord chooses. It will be installed in heaven. It will return with Christ 7 years later to judge the world-system, angels, 1 Cor 6:1-6 and reign.
They have different rules of life. Israel received the interim rule of life called the Mosaic Law. The Church is regulated by the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit employing, in particular, the doctrinal instruction of the epistles from Romans to Jude: Jn 16:12-16; Titus 2:11-15; Jn 1:17.
Israel: God's Chosen Earthly People
It is vital to understand that Paul was writing tar after Pentecost when He wrote the Epistle to the Romans. There he establishes the perspective in which believers are to see national Israel. In general terms we can say: national Israel's past is set forth in chapter 9; national Israel's present is set forth in chapter 10; national Israel's future is set forth in chapter 11. Men have wasted time writing thousands of words against these plain facts, but Israel's election stands. The graves are full of men who wrote against what God wrote.
First, Israel is called God's elect. God tells King Cyrus that He will use Cyrus: "For Jacob, my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect," Isa 45:4 a. In preparing King Cyrus' way God said:
But thou, Israel, art My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham, my friend; Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art My servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away Isa. 41:8-9.
Second, if we look for the set purpose and program of God parallel to that spoken in Romans 8:28, we read a passage like Isaiah 14:24-27. We dare not tell God that He will not stand behind His Old Testament national election of Israel. If we seek God's mind about the nation we will read Isaiah 43:1-7 but especially will we read in verse I: "Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, and I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine." He expected them to be productive: "For the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah His pleasant plant .... Isa 5:7a." The people of Israel were and are indeed "My people, Isa 52:1-12."
Third, that God's call was an elective call, and that He called Abraham alone is verbalized in Isaiah 51:2: "Look unto Abraham, your father, and unto Sarah, who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him."
Fourth, the New Testament corroborates the samples we have presented about Israel's election. In Romans 9 we are faced with national Israel's past. In verse 11, speaking about the times of Isaac and Rebecca, it is written: ("For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth.)" Much damage has been caused by the proof-text artists who ignore the context and search for clues to help rationalize their arguments for their brand of individual election. But the context has to do with national Israel, 9:3-4. Observance of this principle of context would make Rom 9:13 clear.
Fifth, national Israel is under the covenants. Romans 9:4-5 insist that the covenants belong to Israel. In the western world we might understand these best as grace-contracts. These grace-covenants are four in number:
for the land of Palestine. It is set up in Genesis 13:14-18, 500 years before
the giving of the Law to the newly formed nation Israel. It is set forth fully
in Deuteronomy 30:3-20. The land is actually spelled out in the Old Testament
as going from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates and from the entering in of
the gates of Hamath to the River of Egypt (to the writer, this is the Nile
River), Numbers 34:1-12; 2 Kings 14:25-28; 2 Chronicles 7:8.
Two points seem necessary to underline:
(1) Modern scholars need to get out from under the mystique of Origen's mystical method of allegorizing Scripture. It is a "no no" in literary circles and is excluded by a firm doctrine of Bible inspiration. We cannot allegorize the land of Canaan and we cannot allegorize Israel.
(2) We must see the provincial nature of the nation Israel with its limits to one land, as just stated, and the limits of the Mosaic Law (Rom 2:14; Eph 2:12). On the other side of these facts is the universal and unlimited nature of the Church.
The grace-covenant for a national Israel. This is found first in Genesis 12:1-3 and later in Genesis, five times altogether, given in covenant form. "I will make of thee a great nation," Genesis 12:2, is the first way God put it. He will never retreat from this as we read about His special coming to them in Matthew 23:39 and Romans 11:25-27.
The royal grace-covenant for the nation, 2 Samuel 7. The nation was to have a king forever in the Davidic line. That King would live in the power of an endless life. That King was certified by His genealogy in Matthew 1 and the first century view presented accurately by the Magi, Matthew 2:1-2, and King Herod, 2:3-8. The King arrived in a first advent and will return in a second advent, Matthew 25:31ff.
The personal grace-covenant, Jeremiah 31:31ff. This covenant provided assurance for the remnant or remainder of the nation at His return to earth, Rom 11:25-27.
Add to these four national Israel grace-covenants an interim covenant between the time of Moses and the time of Christ's death namely, the Mosaic Law. This Law was their rule of life, which they all broke consistently. The claims of the Law were all answered completely on the Cross by Christ.
Today, before the rapture of the Church, an Israelite receives Christ on the same ground as always and as Gentiles do--by Grace through Faith. They are with Gentiles of this period baptized by the Spirit of God into the Body of Christ, the Church, of which we shall now speak. But first, it is very clear that the election of Israel was grounded in five points just as the Church is grounded in the five points of Romans 8:28-32.
The Church: God's Chosen Heavenly People
We even have some preachers today who say they believe in no church but the local church. Now this writer believes that God's primary work in this world is in the local church, Rev 2-3. But how others can miss or deliberately minimize the Bible declarations about the true and universal Church is beyond reason.
There could be no Church until Christ had died on the Cross, been buried and raised bodily from among the dead and then ascended and seated at the right hand of the Father, Rev 3:21. The Church universal is built upon a unique foundation God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor 3:9. As it reads in Ephesians 2:20, it is "built on the foundation which the Apostles and Prophets laid, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone." This is just as He said it would be (future tense): "Upon this Rock I will build My Church," Matt 16:18.
The Church is elect. This a corporate election. There are several points that need to be set forth about this important kind of election:
The Church is a new creation of God. Ephesians 2:12 reads: "to create in Himself of [two] one new man (i. e. mankind)." Being in Christ is the key to being a member of the new body, His Church--see chapter 7. It is His Body, Ephesians 4:4, 11-16, into which the Holy Spirit baptizes every believer in Christ, 1 Cor 12:13.
The Greek term for Church is ekkleesia. This is a compound term: ek meaning out of something, here out of the world of people; and kleesia from the verb call. It is a technical term placed in its New Testament framework by none other than Jesus Christ, Matt 16:18. It is not in this use a term for our local church buildings.
The Epistle to the Ephesians best defines and describes this Church:
Chap 1 - The Church is His Body (an organism), 1:22-23.
Chap 2 - The Church is His Temple (composed of believing people), 2:21-22.
Chap 3 - The Church is His Top Secret (hidden in God, not in the Old Testament), 3:5-12.
Chap 4 - The Church is His New Mankind (organized with leadership and doctrine),4:11-16.
Chap 5 - The Church is His Bride (ones He can fill by His Spirit), 5:32.
Chap 6 - The Church is His Army (to make a stand for Christ and the Church), 6:11.
In context, the election of the Church is recorded in the plural number in Ephesians 1:4: "According as He has chosen us in Him." You will discover the plurals throughout chapter one if you look for them, ending with those two great verses that sum it all up, 22-23. Ekkleesia is a called-out group that did not exist in the Old Testament for this truth could not have been taught if Christ were not on His Father's throne, Rev. 3:21.
The presence of the Church on earth and the future of Israel is declared distinct by the Council of Apostles at Jerusalem, Acts 15:13-18. Read verse 16: "After these events I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will rebuild from its ruins, and I will set it up."
The Church will be raptured in any moment God elects, 1 Cor 15:51-57. It will be raptured quietly and privately from the world to heaven, 1 Thess 4:13-18; Jn 14:1-3. It will be raptured before the Tribulation Period, 1 Thess 4:13-5:9; 2 Thess 2:1, and 2-12. It will be raptured because it was not in this current age when the age began and it will not be in this age when the age ends, Gal 1:5; Jn 17:16.
We have added the dimension of two corporate elections to show part of the great elective purposes and programs of God, one for earth and the other for heaven. Both of them are involved in the individual elections because the corporate election was decreed by God previously. Individual election placed us in Christ and in the Church, 1 Cor 12:13; Rom 6:1-10. Individual election of Israelites placed believers in Moses and in the formal nation, 1 Cor 10:1-2.
Paul addresses Titus, 1:1-3, with an acknowledgment that what he will write is in line with the faith of God's elect ones (pi). This body of truth (i. e. the faith) calls us to think about things God did, not do by hindsight but by foresight and insight. God brought it all to pass corporately on Pentecost. He brings it to pass individually as taught in chapters 1-6 of this book.
May God's richest endowment appeal enough to you to get you to mine its riches for your own life and cause you to share them with His heirs in your edition of the true Church, your local church. Show them all that you are indeed one of God's Own VIPS.
The Writings of Douglas B. MacCorkle (also
see brief Biography)
Prophetic Peaks, Exposition of the Olivet Discourse. Copyright 1968 by Douglas B. MacCorkle. Third Printing 1972. Printed by Careers With Christ Press, Philadelphia College of Bible, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Printed in the United States of America. Published by the not for profit MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc. Books. P.O. 320909, Cocoa Beach, Fl 32932-0909. Used by permission through the generosity of Judith and Ray Naugle.
God's Own VIPS, Copyright 1987 by Douglas B. MacCorkle. MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc., Printed in the United States of America. Published by the not for profit MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc. Books. P.O. 320909, Cocoa Beach, Fl 32932-0909. Used by permission through the generosity of Judith and Ray Naugle.
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