The Citizenship of the One New Man!
Let us return to the context of the One New Man of Ephesians 2:15. The home or residence of the One New Man is not the Church. It is Israel – the Israel of faith. Again, in this sense, Israel replaces the Church rather than vice versa. Why? Because the “Church” as we know it – as an institution or denomination, is non-existent in the New Testament. It is the “new creation” – “the Israel of God” that Paul speaks of in Galatians 6:16. The One New Man is a spiritual entity made up of Jewish and Gentile believers that have their national moorings in the land promised by God in his inviolable covenants. From the very beginning, Abraham knew the goal was bigger than him – that he would be a father and a light to the nations.
The One New Man is a citizen or member of the Commonwealth of Israel and therefore, ”fellow citizens with Gods people and members of Gods household.” Like citizens of any state, nation or commonwealth, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Israel share equal footing-equal responsibility, opportunity and obligation.
“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. ” .
As with any state, nation or commonwealth, the Commonwealth of Israel will no doubt exhibit divisions of administrative labors-different gifts and callings as citizens. Scriptures teaches that “Gods gifts and his call are irrevocable,” ; thus, certain remnants of Israel (the Jewish part of the One New Man), may be given custodial and administrative responsibility and oversight of the land promised by God’s irreversible covenants.
The “Promised Land”
A critical part of God’s covenant with the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the promise of land:
“On that day, the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates. ” … “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God. ” .
Arguments have been made by Supersessionists that the land promises are not found in the New Testament. This is an argument from silence. Whenever the covenants are referred to in Scripture,7 there is no deletion of the land promises nor is there any inclination on the part of the writer that such is the case. The land promises are an inseparable part of the “covenant package” and remain intact in the New Testament and await their ultimate fulfillment.
There is, however, an indication that eventually all the promises will be realized only by a “remnant.” Isaiah speaks most clearly of the remnant that will emerge in the last days:
“In that day, the remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. Though your people, 0 Israel, be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overwhelming and righteous. ” .
The Holy Spirit’s commentary on Isaiah’s understanding of the “remnant” is given through the Apostle Paul when he says, “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved” (Romans 9:27). Isaiah speaks of a remnant that will return to the land; Paul, quoting that same passage, refers to the remnant as those who are saved (delivered). Ultimately they will be one and the same.
As a matter of fact, it is this saved remnant that Paul identifies himself with as living proof positive that God has not rejected his people. (cf. Rom. 11: 1-5). Who then is this remnant that will return – that will be saved? Paul has already given a spiritual profile of this remnant:
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord, ‘and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. ” .
Paul teaches it is the remnant of the Jewish people – not all, but a remnant, who confess “Jesus is Lord,” who will be saved. It is this remnant within the Jewish community that constitutes the ethnic Jewish part of the One New Man. But there is another vital dimension to the One New Man Jesus is creating. It is the Gentile dimension that Paul describes using the metaphor of the Olive Tree in Romans 11:17-24.
Join me next week to talk more about this Olive Tree metaphor and exactly what Paul meant by it.