The Jewish Heritage Of The Church

There is much doctrine and theology taught today as to the Jewish heritage or inheritance of the church. Many in Christianity have reverted back to the Old Testament festivals and feasts, prayer shawls, and dietary habits in order to be blessed spiritually, physically, and materially. There are those that separate (Separation Theology) the people of the world into three classes of people: Jew, Gentile, and Christian. This theology says that the Hebrew or Jewish people have their covenant, the Old Testament and the Christian people have their covenant, the New Testament, and both are God’s people by partaking of their respective covenant. The Gentiles are out there. They are those that belong to neither covenant and are mostly exhorted to become Christians because they are not of Hebrew origin by natural birth. This doctrine or teaching of separation is, however, totally refuted by the Scripture.
Galatians 3:28-29
V28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
V29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
So there are not three classes of people today. It is not Jew, Gentile, and Christian, but saved or unsaved. Both Jews and Christians today trace their roots back to Abraham. As a matter of fact, even the Islamic Arab nations trace their heritage back to Abraham. It is true, that by the flesh or natural birth both Jews and Arabs are children of Abraham. The question is, however, what constitutes an individual or a group of people as being God’s people? We maintain that it is not by race. We also maintain that it is by birth, but not by natural birth, but by spiritual birth or by faith.
Galatians 3:5-9
V5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
V6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
V7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
V8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
V9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
It is clear from this portion of scripture, and we will look at many others, that God’s people are people of faith. The question is faith in what or should we say faith in whom? The eighth verse of Galatians chapter three says that God preached the gospel, the good news, that through the loins of Abraham, through his “Seed”, Messiah would come and all nations, not just the nation of Israel, but all nations would be blessed by faith. The promise that God gave to Abraham was justification by faith or salvation by faith in the Messiah, or Jesus Christ who was to come.
Galatians 3:14, 16, 18, 26.
V14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
V16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.
Clearly, only those that were of faith, faith in the promise of the “Seed” or Christ or the Messiah to come would be people or children or inheritors of God.
V18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
V26 For ye are all children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
I) Abraham Called as a Gentile
When God called Abraham, he was not of Hebrew origin. The Hebrew race did not even exist. When God first called Abraham, his name was Abram and he came out of Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan.
Genesis 11:31
And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
Abraham’s father, Terah, was a Gentile, an idol worshipper.
Joshua 24:2
And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
Abraham was justified or made righteous before God based on one decision of faith. Faith in the gospel, that by his “Seed” all nations of the earth would be blessed and become people of God.
Romans 4:9-14, 16
V9 Cometh the blessedness then upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
V10 How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision or uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
V11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also;
V12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet circumcised.
V13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
V14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.
V16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
All people of all generations are classified as God’s people, not by natural birth, but by faith. How were the Old Testament people saved? Was it because they were born of Abraham? Was it because they kept the law? No, it was because they believed the gospel, just like Abraham.
Romans 2:28-29
V28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh;
V29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
The nation of Israel can trace its roots back to Abraham by natural birth. But in reality the nation of Israel did not exist until Jacob, who later became Israel by which came the twelve tribes. The term “Jew” or “Jewish” have taken on several meanings. Originally, it was given to the members of the tribe or kingdom of Judah. Later, all that came out of the nation of Israel were called “Hebrew” or “Jewish”. From this scripture Paul describes a “Jew” as one who has been circumcised in the heart, a person of faith not a person of flesh.
Romans 9:6-9
V6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
V7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
V8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
It cannot be stated any clearer than the Holy Spirit stated it through the apostle Paul. People of the earth are children of God, children of Abraham, and heirs of God not by the flesh or natural childbirth, but by the Spirit, by faith in the promise of the “Seed” or the Messiah to come. In our case today, He has come. His name is Jesus Christ. And any nation, tribe, or people, or individual becomes an inheritor of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Please note the words Jesus, the Son of God Himself.
John 8:31-44
V31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed:
V32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
v33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
V34 Jesus answered them, Verily, Verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
V35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever
V36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
V37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
V38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
V39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
V40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
V41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they unto him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
V42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
V43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
V44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Jesus said to the believing Jews, “ I know you are Abraham’s seed in the flesh, but if you were really Abraham’s children, children of faith, children of the promise, you would follow the faith of Abraham instead of being servants of sin, of your real father, the devil.
What then was the purpose of Israel in the Old Testament? They were a people chosen or elected of God by the flesh to whom Christ, the Messiah, would come. The promises, however, of salvation, the glory, and of eternal inheritance would come by faith, the faith of Abraham and of his “Seed.”
Jeremiah 31:31-34
V31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
V32 Not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day that I took them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
V33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write them in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
V34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
This is the New Testament. It is a promise to Israel of the Old Covenant based on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. God would be their God, and Israel would be His people. Their sin and iniquity would be remembered no more because they would become new creatures in Christ Jesus, not of the letter or the Law, but by the Spirit or by faith in Jesus Christ. We are not anti-Semitic. We will see later that God is not done with Israel. When Jesus came, the gospel was first preached to the Jews. God’s heart and desire is for all Israel to be saved. He also wants all Arabs, all Americans, all Africans, all Asians, and all people of all the earth to be saved.
John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
1Timothy 2:4
Who will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
II) Jesus Came First to the House of Israel
Jesus’ commission was to the nation of Israel first. Later, after His resurrection, the plan of salvation, which was for all people, would come through His apostles to be proclaimed to all people of the earth.
Matthew 10:5-6
V5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them saying, go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of Samaritans, enter ye not:
V6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Israel was a privileged nation in that when Jesus came, His mission was limited to the Jews. Later, the commission was to all the world. (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Acts 1:8)
Matthew 15:22-24
V22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
V23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
V24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
So Jesus, by His own admission, came only to the nation of Israel. In this, the nation of Israel was privileged. When Messiah came, he came to preach to them the gospel of the kingdom. He did, however, in this instance, meet the need of this woman of Canaan based on her faith. Even after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, after Pentecost, for about 8 years the gospel had only been preached to Jews. The church was founded by Jews and for Jews. Before His death on the cross, Jesus prophesied that the Jews would reject the gospel and that the gospel would be taken to the Gentiles.
Matthew 21:42-44
V42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?
V43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
V44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind into powder.
The word “nation” in verse 43 is the Greek word “ethnos”, or race, meaning the Gentiles who took the place of the Jews in the gospel program. It was in Acts 10 that Peter was sent to the household of Cornelius, a Gentile, for the first time to preach the gospel to non-Jews. It can be argued that both Jesus in John 4 and Philip in Acts 8 went to the Gentiles first to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Philip had gone down to Samaria in Acts 8 and preached Christ to them. Jesus had shared with the woman of Samaria at the well and many more Samaritans of that city. Though Jesus and the Jews considered Samaritans “Gentiles”, they were in a region of Palestine and were a mixed race. After Solomon, Samaria was the capital if the northern kingdom, Israel. The Samaritans practiced the “Penteteuch” or “Law” and were in some aspects more adherent to it than the Jews. So when we say the gospel was first preached to the Gentiles in Acts 10, we mean that the mixture of the Law of Moses with Grace was purged from the gospel program. The apostle Paul was brought on the scene in Acts 9 to specifically bring the gospel to the Gentiles exclusive of the Law. Though he continued to go into the synagogues and preach Christ to the Jews, his direct commission from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself was to the Gentiles and his message was Grace without the Law.
Acts 9:15
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.
Acts 13:46-49
V46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
V47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
V48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
This is a prophecy fulfilled from Isaiah 49:6. This brought much contention for Paul as he preached the gospel of Grace, the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that people of faith in Christ no longer had to practice the Law in order to be justified. The culmination of this debate came to Jerusalem in Acts 15 when Paul and Barnabas met with the apostles and elders as to whether the Law had to be kept in order for the Gentiles to be saved and partake of the blessings of the covenant. (the Old Covenant). The apostle James argued that the prophets spoke of the salvation of the Gentiles without the Law.
Acts 15:13-18
V13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
V14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
V15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
V16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; And I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
V17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
V18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
The rebuilding of the tabernacle of David is the building of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said in Ephesians that the coming of the long awaited Messiah, had broken down the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile. The Hebrew people are not saved by the Law. All people of all origin are saved by grace. Thus, the church has replaced Israel as God’s chosen people. This does not mean that God does not have a remnant of Israel to be saved or that He is finished in His dealings with them as a people. We will look at this later. What it does mean is that God’s “elect” are anyone chosen of God at any time, Jew or Gentile, and they are the elect of God. All men are called to become God’s elect or chosen ones and can be if they will choose God. (John 3:16).
II) Both Jews and Gentiles Make the New Testament Church
Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ, not based on keeping separate covenants, but by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:13-22
V13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
V14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
V15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.
We stand by the words of the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul, that God classes people today as saved or unsaved. Either one with Him or separated from Him. Jews are not God’s people by keeping the Old Covenant and Christians by keeping the New. The Old Covenant, as Paul states is abolished. People are New Creations by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and live by the New Testament.
V16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
The enmity talked about here and in verse 15 is the commandments or Old Covenant or Law.
V17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
V18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
V19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.
V20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone:
V21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
V22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
This brings us to a question. If the law was abolished, then why are Christians today returning to the Law, to the Feast of Tabernacles, First Fruits, Day of Atonement, and wearing prayer shawls and the like to get God to bless them, protect them, heal them, and provide for them? Friends, Jesus fulfilled the Law, all of the Law. He was the First Fruits. We are blessed, not going to be blessed, or need to get God to bless us, but we are blessed because of grace, the finished work of Jesus at Calvary.
Ephesians 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us, with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
That means all the blessings that the Holy Spirit could bless us with from heaven has already come to us and is in us by Jesus Christ.
Should the church still practice feasts and festivals today and is that the means by which God blesses his people? We have already answered this, but, let’s look at instructions and commands by God through the apostle Paul that clearly refute such practices.
Colossians 2:16-17, 20-23; 3:11
V16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat or drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days:
V17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Not only are these observances abolished, but Christians are commanded to abstain from all religious ordinances contrary to the truth.
V20Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world are ye subject to ordinances,
V21 ( Touch not; taste not; handle not;
V22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
V23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.
Paul told us in Galatians that the Law and Grace cannot co-exist. His whole letter to the churches in Galatia was a rebuke that they had returned to the Law and its practices. ( See the teaching on “Where We Stand on Law and Grace”)
Galatians 4:9-11
V9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
V10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
V11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
To lapse into legality is to go back to elementary religion and bondage to sin.
Colossians 3:11
Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
Paul again repeats himself as in Galatians 3:28 here in Colossians 3:11 that there is neither Jew nor Gentile. The church, the born-again ones, the called out ones (Greek- “ekklesia”) are God’s chosen people. It is comprised of people of all nations, tribes, and tongues that confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
The church is Zion. The church is the New Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem. The New Testament and its program which is by faith in the grace (the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ) has replaced the Old Testament.
Hebrews 12:22-24
V22 But ye are come onto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
V23 To the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
V24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Earthly Jerusalem is still in bondage as long as they adhere to the Old Covenant Law. The New Jerusalem is free. In other words, Zion today, the New or Heavenly Jerusalem is the place where God lives. We are children of God by promise and of the New Testament.
Galatians 4:26-31
V26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
V27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that barest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not; for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
V28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
V29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
V30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
V31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
Today, many of the natural seed of Isaac are still in bondage because it is not by the flesh, but by the Spirit are we children of God. We are children of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and not by natural birth or by keeping the Law. It is all of grace.
Is there a special blessing on Israel or on the children of Abraham by faith. Notice that we make a distinction between the two where most say that they are the same. Does the New Creation trace it’s roots back to Jacob(Israel) by natural birth or to Abraham by faith? It is clearly stated, in both Testaments that we are blessed with faithful Abraham by faith. It is by promise. It is by believing the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that was first preached to Abraham.
III) Does God Have a Future For Israel?
The Scriptures teach that there is a remnant of Israel that will be saved. There is a future for Israel; that is for each individual person to still be saved. It is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but not because they are Israel by the flesh.
Romans 11:1-2,5-6,25-32
V1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid? For I am also an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
V2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel,
God is not through with Israel as a nation.A remnant will be saved, but not by the Law, but by grace.
V5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
V6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
V25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
V26 And so, all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
V27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
There will come a time described as “until the fullness of the Gentiles”, that God will restore the nation of Israel to Him by faith in Jesus Christ. Their blindness will be lifted and they will see the truth concerning the person of Jesus Christ and God’s grace.
V28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are beloved for their fathers’ sakes.
Israel must still come to repentance and fulfill righteousness before being blessed.
V29 For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance.
V30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
V31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
V32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
These two verses (30-31), say that as surely as the Jews were once in the kingdom and the Gentiles were not; as surely as the Gentiles are now in the kingdom and the Jews are not; so surely the Jews will be brought back to God and into the kingdom again. (Zechariah 12:10-13). (Dakes, pg. 170 NT, note n. column 1).
The time of all this taking place is subject to one’s position on “end times”. It is not our intention in this teaching to attribute to when this will occur except to say what Paul said in Romans 11:25 “until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” One conclusion can be clearly stated is that God has a future plan for the restoration of Israel as a nation. It will come by the gospel. A remnant will be saved by grace, not by Law or of the flesh. Jews can become part of the church today by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They don’t stop being Jewish anymore than an African, or an Asian, or an American stops being such once they are saved. God’s people are people of the Spirit. We maintain, however, that there is an end time program for the nation of Israel, unique to them, based upon the promises God made to them through the prophets of the Old Testament prior to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth for the first time. The apostle Paul verifies that. It is our responsibility to preach Jesus Christ, to encourage people to become new creatures in Christ Jesus and live by the New Testament and not by the Old Covenant. We are not trying to and would not attempt to deprive anyone of their ethnicity. We do, however, adhere to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ to make all followers or disciples of Him.