[05] Steven Tanton: The Myth of the Israel-Church Distinction

On September 22, 2016 the 5th Monthly Fulfilled Prophecy Conference took place, hosted by Jordan Hardgrave and featuring Pastor Steven Tanton as the main speaker. Steven lives in Tallahassee, Florida with his wife and children. 

Steven’s message was titled, “The Myth of the Israel-Church Distinction.” Here’s the audio of his message (52 minutes), followed by his notes. Please feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the Comment section below:

  • Proverbs 18:17 – “The first one to plead his cause seems right until his neighbor comes and examines him.”
    • Let’s be good neighbors and examine the Dispensational idea that the Church and true Israel are two distinct entities.
  • We struggle with the issue of who true Israel is because of what Dispensationalism has done to Western Christianity.
  • The fundamental point in regards to understanding Dispensationalism is educating yourself with its literal hermeneutic. All other beliefs within the system are rooted in its literal interpretation of scripture.  But what does that mean?
    • Ryrie (Dispensationalism Today, P.86) – Ryrie says the “literal method/principle of interpretation gives to every word the same meaning it would have in normal usage, whether employed in writing, speaking or thinking.”
    • In other words, if it says certain promises are made to “Israel” in the OT then the promises have to be fulfilled to literal ethnic Israel.
    • Before one ever opens the Bible they predetermined to use this interpretation method REGARDLESS of what the apostles or Jesus have to say on the matter. There is no room for Jesus or His apostles to bring the OT promise into focus or sharpen what the OT prophecies ultimately meant.
    • The dispensational system has rigged the game of what the Bible can mean and what it can’t mean.
  • The word Israel was used in several different ways in the bible (over 2500 times):
    • It stood for a man – Jacob.
    • It refers to Jacob’s family.
    • The whole 12 tribes are called Israel, an ethnic people.
    • There is a physical land called Israel.
    • It refers to the state, a political institution.
    • There are times when Israel referred to a segment within Israel. That is, within ethnic Israel, there was a faithful remnant. E.g. Romans 9:6 – “For they are not all Israel who are of Israel.”
  • The bible does not view people from the perspective of race but rather regards them as the “seed of Abraham” and “heirs according to the promise” on the basis of relationship.
  • Even in the OT we see the idea that not all Israel was true Israel:
    • Exodus 12:38 – Egyptians and possibly other nations of people made the trip to Mount Sanai.
    • Rahab
    • Ruth
    • Esther 8:17 – How does one just become a Jew if it is based on physical birth?
  • In the NT it becomes clear to the Bible student that race does not qualify one for special privileges with God.
    • First, we see Christ is true Israel and the true Seed:
      • Matthew 2:15
      • Isaiah 42
      • All scattered on the night of the Cross but one faithful Jew – Jesus! He was the faithful remnant (John 8:29).
      • Galatians 3:16 – Jesus is clearly the Seed.
    • Gal 3:27-29; Gal 3:7 – Paul understood Jesus to be the Seed, and he also understood individual believers to be the seed. Romans 9.
    • Gal 4:28 – How are we like Isaac? Because if God didn’t supernaturally rebirth us spiritually then we could not call Abraham dad. Just like Isaac in the natural!
    • The NT clearly reveals to us that neither race, nor who one’s granddaddy is, gains relationship with God. It’s only faith in Christ.
      • John 8:37-39 – Jesus
      • Luke 3:8 – John the Baptist
      • Rom 2:28, 29; Rom 9:8; Phil 3 – The Apostle Paul
      • 1st Peter 2:9,10 – Peter
      • Revelation 2:9 – John
    • The Olive Tree illustration by Paul in Romans 11, along with Galatians 6:16, should clearly lead us to trust in the fact that ONLY those IN Christ are considered to be true Israel.

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