EXPOSING THE DANGEROUS HERESY OF REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY WHERE THE CHURCH REPLACES ISREAL IN GOD’S PLAN (Part 2)
EXPOSING THE FALSE TEACHINGS OF AMILLENIALISM
– Last week we found out that replacement theology was introduced to the church shortly after Gentile leadership took over from the original Jewish leadership, sometimes after 70 A.D. but really accelerated with Emperor Constantine and start of the Roman Papal Church. Replacement Theology teaches that the church replaces Israel in God’s plan. The many promises made to Israel in the Bible are now fulfilled in the church, not in Israel. So, the prophecies in Scripture concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Promised Land are “spiritualized” or “allegorized” into promises of God’s blessing for the church. The church is now the new Israel and they teach that the Jewish people have no special future and no longer have a special purpose in the plan of God.
Amillennialism denies the literal fulfilment of the prophecies of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. They deny that there is a literal Rapture of the church, a 7- year Tribulation and the literal kingdom over which Jesus Christ will rule on earth for 1000 years. Amillennialists believe that Satan has been bound up and no longer active in the world and that we are now living in the Millennium of Peace. They believe that the book of Revelation is a spiritual allegory and that the Millennial Kingdom began with the church. These erroneous teachings were taught by Origen and Augustine and adopted by the Roman Catholic Church. The Amillennialist view is that when the Jews rejected the Messiah, all the prophecies to Israel were transferred to the church. They believe the church has replaced Israel for all intents and purposes. It’s at the root of much of anti-Semitism and is held by the Catholic Church and many of the breakaway Reformation churches as well as some extreme counterparts in the white supremacy movement.
As we have seen last week, the antagonism of the early Christians towards the Jews was reflected in the writings of the early so-called church fathers who were influenced by Satan with hatred towards God’s people. It was the beginning of discrimination and persecution of the Jewish people as well as the start of Satan’s counterfeit of Christianity. By creating a counterfeit Christian religion, one that is not entirely different from the true church but rejects some of the essential biblical teachings that lead to eternal life; Satan is attempting to thwart God’s plan for the salvation of mankind. Some of the names of these early so-called church fathers were Eusebius, Jerome, Origen of Alexandria, Augustine, and others. Some of these were even canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Even though Replacement Theology has been around since 70 A.D., we can definitely trace it as far back as the second century when Justin Martyr put forward the idea that the Christian church is “the true spiritual Israel.” Mainstream Christianity started slipping away from its original Jewish roots around the end of the third century. The Gentile powers-that-be in early institutional Christianity wanted to distance themselves from Christianity’s Jewish origins. In the fourth century, the church leader and historian Eusebius, together with an assembly of bishops and Roman Emperor Constantine formed a church-state alliance – the Roman papal church. Eusebius considered the unified Church and Roman Empire to be the Kingdom of God on earth.
Instead of the church taking this opportunity to spread its gospel message in love this Roman papal religion truly became the church of triumphant, ready to vanquish its foes and this is when Replacement Theology began to flourish. Jews lost many of their rights. Then later in 380 A.D., the Bishop of Malan caused the burning of a synagogue and referred to it as “an act pleasing to God.” No longer was this so-called Christian church on the defensive and apologetic, but aggressive, directing its venom at everyone “outside of the flock,” and in particularly the Jewish people who could be found in almost every community and nation throughout Europe.
It is important to understand this change, because it influenced the early so-called church fathers to make anti-Jewish statements as Christianity began to disconnect itself from its Jewish roots. As the church spread far and wide within the Roman Empire and its membership grew increasingly non-Jewish, Greek and Roman thought began to creep in and completely change the orientation of biblical interpretation through a different mindset. Rather than a Jewish or Hebraic mindset. This would later result in many heresies, some of which the church is still practicing today.
So, we can clearly see that from the earliest centuries of the church era, Satan had deceived virtually the entire church into believing that Israel was no longer God’s chosen people, and that status has now been transferred to the church. This deception has freed the church to pay no heed to God’s curse in Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you (Israel), and whoever curses you I will curse.”
Advocates of Replacement Theology open themselves up to come under this curse. Since Replacement Theology is both blasphemous and existentially dangerous, remaining in a church or a denomination that teaches and believes this error; you should confer with God as it might be time for you to leave – to flee “Babylon.” Why you ask? This curse is re-confirmed in Numbers 24:9b, “Blessed is he who blesses you, And cursed is he who curses you.” Be forewarned – That promise (curse) of God still stands.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE CHURCH REPLACES ISREAL?
(1) The church becomes arrogant and self-centered.
(2) It boasts against the Jews and Israel.
(3) It devalues the role of Israel or has no role for Israel at all.
(4) These attitudes result in anti-Semitism in word and deed.
(5) Without a place for Israel and the Jewish people today, you cannot explain the Bible’s prophecies, especially the very specific ones being fulfilled in Israel today.
(6) Many New Testament passages do not make sense when the Jewish people are replaced by the church.
(7) You can lose the significance of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, for today. Many Christians boast of being a New Testament Christian or a New Testament church such as in the book of Acts. However, the Bible of the early church was not the New Testament, which did not get codified until the fourth century, but rather the Hebrew Scriptures.
(8) You can lose the Hebraic/Judaic contextualization of the New Testament which teaches us more about Jesus and how to better become disciples.
(9) The church loses out on the opportunity to participate in God’s plan (and prophecy) for the church, Israel, and the world.
(10) It denigrates the Word of God and calls into question the very character of God.
THE RESPONSE OF SCRIPTURE
What does the Word of God have to say about it all? To begin with it strongly repudiates anti-Semitism. Psalms 129:5-8 says that, “all who hate Zion” will be “put to shame….” It further states that no believer should ever give a blessing to such a person. With regard to the allegation that the Jews are “Christ killers,” the Word of God clearly identifies who murdered Jesus and makes it plain that they were not exclusively the Jews. In Acts 4:27 we are told that Jesus was killed through a conspiracy that involved “both Herod and Pontius Pilate along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel.” In reality, all of us have the blood of Jesus on our hands “for all of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23),” and “Jesus died for all sinners (1 Cor. 15:3).” Furthermore, Christ came to die, to lay down His life for us and if He wasn’t killed by either the Jews or the Gentiles then we wouldn’t have His death, burial, and resurrection – we wouldn’t have the Gospel that saves. See how Satan has twisted and perverted the minds of the early so-called church fathers into becoming Jewish hatemongers.
Concerning the claim that the Jews have been rejected by God, there are a couple of biblical principles that need to be kept in mind:
First, the Bible affirms that the Jews were called as God’s chosen people to be witnesses of what is means to have a relationship with Him (Isaiah 43:10-12). And the Bible makes it clear that this calling is “irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). This verse clearly tells us that the reason they (Israel) are still beloved is that God’s gifts and calling are never rescinded. God does not take back His gifts. Once He has made an unconditional promise, He never goes back on it. This is the God of the Bible that I know and worship.
Second, in direct contradiction of Replacement Theology, Paul asserts point-blank that their rejection of Jesus has not nullified God’s faithfulness to the promises He made to them (Rom. 3:1-4). Paul makes the point again in Romans 11:1 when he asks, “Has God cast away His people?” Paul answers his own question with an emphatic statement: “Certainly not…. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew (v.1-2). Paul couldn’t make it any plainer than that in his rejection of Replacement Theology. Now, it is true that the Jewish people are currently under discipline because of their rejection of their Messiah. Over and over again in the Old Testament the prophets said they would be disciplined if they were unfaithful but always the promise was made that they would be preserved. An example of this type of prophetic statement can be found in Jeremiah 30:11, “For I am with you declares the Lord, to save you; for I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not destroy you completely. But I will chasten you justly, and will by no means leave you unpunished.” In Zechariah 2:8, God proclaims that the Jewish people are “the apple of His eye,” and He warns against anyone trying to harm them.
Another reason they have been preserved is because God is determined to bring a great remnant to salvation (Isaiah 11:20-22). This promise made repeatedly through the Hebrew Scriptures and is confirmed by Paul in the New Testament in Romans 9 through 11. The salvation of this remnant is described in detail in Zechariah 12:10 where it says, that at the end of the Great Tribulation period the remaining Jews will come to the end of themselves and will turn their hearts to God in repentance and accept Jesus as their Messiah. That believing remnant will go into the Millennium in the flesh and will comprise the nation Israel to whom God will fulfil all the promises He has made to the Jews (Isaiah 60-62). During the Millennium, the nation of Israel will be the prime nation to the world through whom God will bless all the other nations (Zech, 8:22-23). The Word of God makes it clear that Israel definitely has a role and a future in the end times.
One of the gravest errors made by the church today is that they confuse prophecy concerning Israel with revelation concerning the church. This is a completely unjustifiable tampering of Holy Scripture. To make Scripture easier for a person to understand you must remember this: Israel’s sphere is “earthly”, and the churches sphere is “heavenly,” and they should not be confused. Israel is not the church and The Throne of David is not in heaven – it is on earth.
The first question most people usually ask in response to these biblical points about Israel in the end times is this: “Why would God continue to pursue such a stubborn and rebellious people?” The answer is that they are witnesses of God and through them God is demonstrating His unfathomable grace. Only a God of grace would put up with them. But that is also true of you and me, as well. God is not doing one thing for the Jewish people that He is not willing to do for all of us. He pursues us in love despite our sinfulness and regardless of how stiff-necked we may be. He never washes His hands of us.
This brings us to a second question: “What is God’s plan for the Jews in the end times and how will He bring about the salvation of a great remnant?” Let me outline the answer for you briefly:
(1) The Jewish people will be regathered in unbelief from the four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:11-12). This is the most prophetic prophecy in the Old Testament. Incidentally, if God has no purpose left for the Jewish people then why would He go to the trouble of regathering them?
(2) Their state will be re-established (Isaiah 66:7-8). This prophecy was fulfilled on May 14, 1948.
(3) They will once again occupy the City of Jerusalem (Zech. 8:7-8). This prophecy was fulfilled on June 11, 1967.
(4) All the nations of the world will come against them over the issue of the control of Jerusalem (Zech. 12:2-3). This happens during the seven-year Tribulation period when God’s wrath will be poured out on the inhabitants of the earth. We believers, the church of Jesus Christ, will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and taken away from the earth before the Tribulation period begins (Raptured).
(5) The Antichrist will come to their rescue by guaranteeing them peace and allowing them to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27). This happens at the start of the seven-year Tribulation period.
(6) But at the mid-point of the Tribulation or 3 ½ years, the Antichrist breaks the peace treaty with Israel and declares himself to be God and demands to be worshipped in the Jewish temple and the Jews will reject him (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
(7) The Antichrist will then attempt to annihilate the Jews and he will succeed in killing two thirds of them (Rev. 12:13-17 and Zech. 13:8-9).
(8) At the end of the Tribulation period when the Jews have come to the end of themselves, they will turn to God and receive Jesus as their Messiah (Zech. 12:10).
(9) Jesus will return at this point in time and He will regather all believing Jews to Israel where He will establish them as the prime nation in the world (Deuteronomy 30:1-9).
(10) The blessings of God will flow out to the nations through the Jews during the Millennium or the 1000-year reign of Jesus Christ on earth from Jerusalem (Zech. 8:22-23).
As you can see, the Jewish people have a very central role in the Bible prophecies of the end times.
DON’T BE DECIEVED – DON’T BELIEVE SATAN’S LIE
Sadly, many Christians won’t accept these facts because they have been deceived into accepting the erroneous teachings of Replacement Theology. True born-again Bible believing Christians must repudiate Replacement Theology. No one who claims to follow Jesus, ought to teach or believe that the Jewish people have been replaced, superseded, permanently set aside or continually exiled from their land.
Don’t ignore the admonition given by Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, specifically directed to Gentile Christians. I’ll paraphrase it here: “Do not be ignorant towards the natural branches, the Jewish people. God chose them to be the root of the Tree of Salvation. They support you; you don’t support or replace them! Only some of them were broken off from the Tree of Salvation but not all of them. Moreover, it is God’s plan to graft the entire Jewish nation back into the Tree of Salvation. So, don’t be arrogant or conceited towards the Jewish people. Be respectful to them, lest God punish you (Romans 11:17-24).”
If God broke His covenant with the Jewish people due to their sins, then what about the 20 centuries of sin in the church? Throughout these past 20 centuries there have been an endless succession of anti-Semitism, heresy, apostasy, greed, immorality, division, and ceaseless struggles for power and prominence within the church. Professing Christians have subjected true born-again Christians to torture and death in the name of Jesus. If God can annul His covenant with Israel, then He can just as easily annul His covenant with the church. But we must thank God that He is faithful and will never break any of His covenants – either with Israel or the Church.
If you are a true born-again Christian, you need to stand by Israel and support Israel as much as possible. God’s ancient curse in Genesis 12:3 is still very much in effect. “I will bless those who bless you (Israel); and I will curse him who curses you.” Don’t heed God’s warning lightly. Don’t be deceived. If you’re a born-again Christian, the devil has lost you, but his goal now is to make you an ineffective Christian and to try to hinder you and keep you from furthering God’s kingdom in any which way he can. Don’t let the devil do that to you.
Replacement theology is an abomination. It is un-biblical, and it has resulted in virulent anti-Semitism that has in turn resulted in the deaths of millions of Jews. Most Christians are unaware of the shameful history of Christian anti-Semitism and how the teachings of men like Augustine and Luther helped pave the road to Auschwitz.
If the documents we call the Bible are to be taken seriously, then the status of Israel and the Jewish people is of utmost importance. In fact, if words mean anything, the integrity and veracity of the God of Scripture depends on His faithfulness to the Jewish people and to the covenants He made with them.
The issue of Replacement Theology is not a minor one, as if it pertains to non-essential matters of the faith. Rather, it relates to the core convictions of Christian theology. In essence, Replacement Theology is therefore more than just the belief that the church has replaced Israel. It is the mother of all heresies. Why? Because it calls into question the very character and integrity of God. Is God faithful to His promises? If God can change His mind with regard to His chosen and beloved people, Israel, and the covenants (promises) He made with them then how much more easily can He change His mind about those of us who are Gentiles. We need to understand this, if God could take back His unconditional promises to Israel, He can take them back from us. Our very eternity is at stake.
Moreover, we are challenged to consider the identity of our God. The Christian conception of God is entirely built on the notion that the God of the New Testament was first the God of the Old Testament – the God of Israel. Does He still primarily remain the “God of Israel?” Or is that only His secondary identity now? Those who hold that God is not faithful to or capable of fulfilling His word to Israel have a theology built on sand. They are calling God a liar and exposing Him to public shame, because God promised the children of Israel, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).”
So, while God may be focusing His attention primarily on the church in this dispensation of grace, God has not forgotten Israel and will one day restore Israel to His intended role as the nation He has chosen (Romans 11).
F/B – The Signs of Our Times
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Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man
Lian Muan Kim –
Koinonia Baptist Seminary, Yangon