The Theology of Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
Baptist, Conservative, Dispensational
ISRAEL – CHURCH COMPARISON
Israel disappeared as a nation on earth in A. D. 135 and reappeared in 1948. In the time period spanning A. D. 135 to 1948 every major denomination came into existence with the theology which makes it distinctive from other churches. This includes the current theology of the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists and charismatic churches such as the Assembly of God and the Church of God.
During this time period (135-1948) all of these churches formulated their doctrines of eschatology (last things). They were forced to explain all of the O. T. texts which give unconditional promises to national Israel. And, since national Israel had not existed since A. D. 135 they reinterpreted all of those texts as references to “spiritual Israel” which they called the Church. Although this is understandable and although we might have done the same thing under the circumstances, it is wrong.
There are very great insurmountable differences between national Israel and the Church in God’s Word.
- Israel is a literal nation (Gen 12:2). The Church is spiritual (Gen 12:3).
- Israelhas physical boundaries (Gen 13:5). The Church is universal (Mt 28:19).
- Israel has political leaders. The Church has Jesus Christ as its head (Eph 5:23).
- Israel has both spiritual and secular laws governing it. The Church only has spiritual laws governing it (Rom 8:1-2).
- Israel is never defined as a “mystery” it is a peculiar God-raised nation. The Church is a “mystery” unknown and unseen in the Old Testament (Rom 11:25; 16:25; Eph 1:9; 3:3 etc).
- Israel is not called the “body of Christ”; it is a nation of both believers and unbelievers. The Church is called a “living body” (a living organism) and consists of only believers in Christ (1 Cor 12:27).
- Israelhad a Temple but it was not called the “Temple of God.” The Church consisted of many believers who are all “temples” in which God dwells (1 Cor 3:17; 6:19).
- Israel did not have a permanent indwelling Holy Spirit; the Spirit would come and go (1 Sam 16:23). The Church has a permanent indwelling Holy Spirit.
- Israel was subjugated to approach a hierarchy of priests in order to be reconciled into fellowship with God. The Church has every believer a priest (1 Pet 2:9).
- Israelwas given scores of unconditional promises as a nation. The unconditional promises given to Israel cannot be transferred to the Church. The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable (Rom 11:29).
- Israelwas promised a blessed Messianic kingdom on earth (2 Sam 7:13). The church was promised a home in heaven (Jn 14:1-4).
- Israelwill not receive its final blessings until much prophecy has been fulfilled (Mt 24; Rev 19). The Church has always believed that Jesus could return at any moment in history and that no intervening prophecy must be fulfilled before he returns for the Church (1 Thes 4:13-17; 1 Cor 15:51-55; Rev 4-5).
- New Testament writers distinguish between those inside nationalIsraelwho are spiritual and those who are only Israelites by physical birth. They are called the “Israel of God” (Gal 6:16). The Church is never called “Israel” or “spiritual Israel.”
- Israelwas to keep its special revelations to itself and not share them in mission work (Deu 7:2). The Church is commanded to evangelize all nations (Mt 28:20).