by Paul Benson
Sadly, the ‘Learned Ones’ have a way of turning the simple truths of the Bible into a complicated mess which can only be (supposedly) understood through their ‘Learned Theories’. The wayward notions of TWO comings of Christ in the end-times, and a pre-tribulation rapture, rest upon (and in fact are forced by) what is known as Dispensational Theology. Without this faulty theological foundation as a platform, an already wobbly pre-trib rapture theory would fall over on its deluded noggin.
A Dispensationalist will often ‘prove’ his theory by pointing out the many errors of Replacement (Covenant) Theology. And this is not hard to do as those errors do exist. It is quite possible to show from the Scriptures the many shortcomings of Replacement theology. But there is a subtle deception at work there. Because Dispensational (Separation) theology is also full of error itself. A classic case of the pot calling the kettle black!
The truth of the matter is found in a fact which those who promote either of those theories like to ignore. That there is a third theory which rebukes both of them; and presents a Biblical (and therefor proper) understanding of the concept of Election. That third theory is known as Remnant Theology. But you do not need to be a theologian to understand who God’s true elect are; it is actually quite simple!
The three main theories on election are:
1). Replacement (Covenant) Theology
2). Separation (Dispensational) Theology
3). Remnant (Biblical) Theology
Let’s take a brief look at each of these three theories; and then see how they compare to the biblical teachings on who God’s true ‘Elect’ are today. Again, this is not a complicated matter; it is a truth which is easily grasped through Paul’s use of the Olive Tree to illustrate Election in Romans 11.
Replacement (Covenant) Theology
Replacement theology, also known as supersessionism, teaches the Christian church has superseded Israel in God’s plan. The heart of Replacement theology is the notion that the Church has completely replaced Israel in the plan of God; and that the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people. That all the future promises to Israel will be fulfilled in the Church, and not to Israel. This means one must spiritualize the unfulfilled promises to Israel and then apply them to the Church; and claim the New Testament usages (after Acts) of the word ‘Israel’ are referring to the Church and not to national Israel.
Replacement theology relies heavily upon an allegorical system of Biblical interpretation. This has been a very popular view for much of the history of the Church; although it’s tendency to foster antisemitism has led to many rejecting it since the atrocities of WWII.
FOOD 4 THOUGHT: If this theory were true Paul’s illustration in Romans 11 would have been of one tree being uprooted and then another tree being planted in its place; but this is not the case. Keep this in mind.
More on Replacement (Covenant) theology https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supersessionism
Separation (Dispensational) Theology
Separation Theology has a much different outlook on the relation of Israel to the Church. They claim a great distinction between God’s dealings with Israel and the Church; with them being and remaining a totally separate entity. The promises of God to Israel (so they claim) will be fulfilled to them exclusively after they return to God in the end-time scenario; and God’s dealings with, and reward of, the Church take place in an entirely separate manner (and location).
A major tenet of this theory is that when Israel rejected Christ God suspended his dealings with them, and the Christian Church is what he has occupied himself with in the mean time. The Church is seen as a parenthetical work God does while waiting for the day he will once again ‘deal’ with the Jewish nation, and bring them into right relationship with him.
The strict application of historical grammatical interpretation in Dispensational theology is what forces the separation of Israel and the Church. It also forces the removal of the Church before God’s final dealings with Israel to bring them into the fulfillment of his promises to them. It is the foundation upon which the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture of the Church stands. Without this foundation the pre-trib rapture theory cannot stand on its own!
FOOD 4 THOUGHT: If this theory were true Paul’s illustration in Romans 11 would have been of TWO trees which remain separate and apart from one another; but this is not what he portrayed. Keep this also in mind.
More on Separation (Dispensational) theology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dispensationalism
Although there are certainly vital elements of truth in both these afore mentioned theological positions, sadly neither brings us to a conclusion concerning election which is in agreement with the Scriptures.. Let’s check out that third theory.
Remnant (Biblical) Theology
When we leave behind the prideful high-minded theories of man, and prayerfully seek for a Spirit-led interpretation of the Scriptures (which involves different forms of interpretation applied at the proper time and in a proper manner) we arrive at a third theory on election: Remnant Theology! The elect of God who will inherit his promises are a remnant of called out and chosen ones. This remnant is comprised of both a segment of Israel (messianic Jews) as well as the Gentile believers in Christ joined to form what the Bible calls ‘one new man in Christ’ (Ephesians 2:11-19).
Remnant Theology is what is portrayed by the illustration of the Olive tree in Romans 11. It is actually a portrayal of elements of two trees, one natural and one wild, which are joined in a remarkable manner. It is the Biblical and therefor correct understanding of election. Let’s take a run through this chapter, and you will see what I mean.
In the preceding chapter Paul had stated his: heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved (Rom. 10:1). He then goes on to teach the ONLY means of reconciliation to God (and the inheriting of his promises) is righteousness by faith; and he then expounds upon the necessity of the preaching of the Gospel to bring this reconciliation to Israel in particular, and all men in general. On to chapter 11.
I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew… Romans 11:1-2
These first two verses of the chapter in question totally dispel the notion presented by Replacement Theology that God is ‘done’ dealing with national Israel. He will be dealing with ALL nations of the earth right up until the day of his Return, calling mankind to repentance and promising eternal life.
God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias?… … I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. Romans 11:2-6
Here Paul introduces this concept of an elect remnant of Israel, and firmly states this election is not by lineage, but BY GRACE! And this is very important to grasp; as much teaching upon election puts forth the notion that Israel attains their inheritance simply because they are in the bloodline of those to whom God made the promises. But that is a falsehood, and denies what is clearly taught in this chapter.
(SIDE NOTE: I have never been able to get a dispensationalist / pre-trib teacher to sit down and have a honest look at, and discussion of, Romans 11. They will jump right to the end of the chapter, twist a couple of verses on calling, and then speed off to a discussion of their beliefs based upon Historical Grammatical interpretation of certain O.T. texts. It is almost like they are frightened of this part of the Bible!
Dispensationalists must turn a blind eye to almost the entire 11th chapter of Romans, as well as a great deal of the other writings of the Apostles, as they are completely contrary to their teachings. And the part they will quote from chapter 11 (v.25-26), they twist the meaning around to where Scripture which actually rebukes their theory now sounds like it promotes it. But they will never accept the message of the whole chapter for what is says. Their erroneous theory forces them to engage in selective vision and willful ignorance.)
What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. Romans 11:7-8
Notice in this passage national Israel and election (contrary to the teachings of many) are NOT presented as being synonymous! The election attained something national Israel did not! National Israel in rejecting Christ was placed in a slumber which caused them to be cut off from election (except for that believing remnant). When you understand this the rest of the true New Covenant concept of election begins to make sense.
And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Romans 11:17-21
Now Paul brings in the illustration of the Olive tree; and also begins a rebuke of those who totally reject Israel as a part of God’s future plan; He compares the unbelieving majority of national Israel to branches who were broken off the natural Olive tree (election) by their unbelief (rejecting of Christ); and the Gentile believers as branches of a ‘wild’ Olive tree which were grafted into the natural Olive tree (election) through faith in Christ.
This merger of the Church being added into the ranks of God’s elect remnant by faith in Christ is at the heart of the true biblical understanding of election.
(SIDE NOTE: It is important to note the messianic Jews do not join us in our election; we join them in theirs. We are grafted into their election, not vice-versa. We do not replace them as Replacement (Covenant) Theology demands; or stand apart from them as a separate work God is doing, as Separation (Dispensational) Theology demands. We are joined to the Jewish Remnant as one entity in Christ.)
Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. 24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? 25 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 fulness of the Gentiles be come in. Romans 11:22-25
Paul continues his warning against a haughty attitude of the Gentile believers over their becoming a part of God’s chosen; and introduces us to the reality of the future return of Israel to their status as the elect. He brings out the point God is able to graft back in through faith those who were cut off by unbelief. This promise of a future deliverance of a believing portion of Israel (1/3?) is plainly taught in numerous passages of the Bible. It is prophesied and will come to pass!
As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Romans 11:28-29
God still has a call and a future for those of national Israel who will heed that call and return unto him. But it will not be a promise fulfilled through lineage or national citizenship. The only door open to them is the same door we all must enter through; The Cross of Christ and the Blood which was shed to wash away our sin. There is no election outside of Christ! And all of the Covenant promises God made will be fulfilled in Christ. ALL of them!
We merely skimmed the truths presented us in Romans 11; but any with an open mind, and a hunger for the truth, should now see the true concept of election is not given by either Dispensational or Replacement Theory. God gave this illustration of the Olive tree as a simple pattern to show us the truth on election. I hope you would study this out in a thorough fashion, and solidify this truth in your heart. It will safe-guard you against the wayward and high-minded theories of those whose education has gotten in the way of their learning of God’s truth.
Pre-Trib Rapture Refuted
Now let’s address my earlier statement of how a proper understanding of election destroys the myth of a pre-tribulation rapture.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.… …Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:3+5-6
One of the most grievous errors of the pre-trib doctrine is that it presents a salvation for national Israel apart from the Work of the Cross. They teach their salvation is different than ours; that it is bestowed upon them through O.T. promises. This is a gross misrepresentation of the Scriptures, and is outright heresy! Neither the O.T. Saints nor the (supposed) non-Church tribulation Saints will be saved apart from grace through faith.
Dispensationalism teaches the age of grace comes to an end at the ‘rapture’ before the start of the great tribulation; and the tribulation Saints are saved by showing their faith through their martyrdom. BUT this concept of self-redemption is more in line with Islamic doctrine than the doctrine of the Bible! Jesus clearly taught he is the Door, and the only door, into the Kingdom of God.
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. Isaiah 42:1
Please allow me to present some simple truth any believer should be able to grasp. Jesus Christ himself was prophesied to become God’s elect. He is the fulfilment of the ‘seed’ of Abraham the promise was given to. And if we are in Christ we too are that promised ‘seed’! (see Galatians ch. 3) Therefor if Jesus is God’s elect, we who are in Christ are also the elect of God! If the Head of the Body of Christ be God’s elect, how could his Body (the Church which he indwells) not also be God’s elect? The Church is very much *God’s elect today!
*For a study on how the New Testament clearly presents the Body of Christ as the elect of God please SEE THIS ARTICLE.
The pre-trib theory rests firmly upon the notion of God dealing with national Israel as his chosen elect apart from his dealings with the Church. Proving God’s true elect are a Remnant body composed of a blending of Jewish and Gentile followers of Christ means God deals with them in a singular manner and at the same time. This sets aside any notion of God removing the Church before the tribulation so he can concentrate on his ‘Jewish elect’. He has been concentrating on them for 2000 years in Christ!
FOOD 4 THOUGHT: Is God going to split the ‘one new man in Christ’ he created in half, and subject half to the (supposed) *’wrath of God’ during the tribulation; but take the other half off to a wedding feast that only half the Bride is in attendance of? This is the kind of unreasonable conclusions Dispensational theology presents. When confronted with the Biblical truth of election the pre-trib theory becomes quite nonsensical. Many other aspects of this folly could be highlighted but this post is getting a little long so I will refrain. I think you get the point.
*See this article: Is The Great Tribulation God’s Wrath?
Teachers serve an important function in the Church (I should know because I am one); but a teacher should only be confirming what the Spirit and the Word are already speaking to you (plus you can benefit from many hours of research and prayer condensed into a short teaching). God never intended for ‘education’ to replace the function of the Holy Spirit as teacher! All in all you don’t need a guru (or me) to tell you what to think or believe. And with so many theological theories at odds with each other it is quite obvious ‘higher learning’ does NOT necessarily equate to higher levels of truth!
I hope you are encouraged to reach out and grasp the simple truth on election presented in Romans 11; and not leave it up to the ‘Learned Ones’ to tell you what to think or believe. We may develop a firm understanding of the doctrines of our faith by simply studying the Scriptures for ourselves (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) and choosing to believe what is plainly stated in them.
May the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God, lead us all into God’s perfect truth.
And may God deliver us from the many errors of the ‘Learned Ones’!
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