Friday, April 6, 2012

WHY SOME THINGS REALLY DO MATTER IN THEOLOGY

Being a theologian requires that you become dissatisfied with your present level of understanding. You must desire to deepen your comprehension of the Christian faith and be committed to growing toward mature thinking about God, yourself, and the world. This dissatisfaction includes a healthy discontent with folk theology—the all-too common patchwork of unexamined cliches, slogans, stories, and half-baked notions about God that forms the thinking of many Christians today. And you must find unsatisfying the possibility of remaining at the level of accepting by sheer blind faith whatever you have been taught by your own Christian subculture. You must have such a strong desire to grow in a deepened faith that you are willing to question widely propagated yet questionable ideas and beliefs in the light of the Gospel.
—Stanley Grenz and Roger Olsen

About five years after I graduated from a Dispensational Seminary (Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland) with a Master’s degree in Exegetical Theology, I started to have some serious doubts about certain teachings that I had had drilled into my brain at seminary.  I mean I really struggled!  It was the kind of struggle where you can’t sleep at night because most of your waking thoughts are consuming you even at night in your sleep! For a time I was so distracted that I felt I couldn’t concentrate on anything except trying to figure out what was eating at me about my lack of understanding of the Gospel.  To be honest, I knew I had some serious flaws in my thinking about the Gospel, but didn’t exactly know then what they were, or how to articulate them, or worse, how to fix them.  I do believe this was the Lord causing me great discomfort and desiring that I think through these issues for myself.

Just prior to this discomfort, I had finished reading a book by John Gerstner entitled Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: ‘A Critique of Dispensationalism.’ This one book set me on a journey that completely changed how I think about the Gospel.  (Oddly enough, several of the books that were quoted in the footnotes in the first publication of Wrongly Dividing were books that I had in my personal library, and when I went to check the references of several of the quoted passages in Wrongly Dividing, several of the quotes were noted as being on the wrong pages.  These not-so-slight errors led to the book eventually being rewritten and published by another company after it sold out.  In the newest publication the errors have been fixed).

That being true, the body of the work in that book did exactly what the author intended it to do: make the reader consider the inferences and consequences that go along with owning your theological beliefs.  For anyone who thinks that this kind of articulation doesn’t really matter in theology, all I can say is … maybe you should keep reading.

Let me illustrate with an example:  How can it be, that such well known para-church organizations such as Campus Crusade for Christ (along with many other Dispensational groups), justify continuing the present day orthodox Christian practices of Communion and Baptism within the church, when both were instituted prior to the day of Pentecost; and yet adamantly defend the notion that not one single Old Testament believer was ever indwelt by the Holy Spirit when they believed the promises of God, nor will those Old Testament believers ever be a part of the Church in eternity, because the Church and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit happened after Pentecost? 

But there is more to the problem than simply speaking about what the indwelling of the Spirit is, and when it took place.  Equally troubling is the Dispensational teaching that the Sermon on the Mount is utterly non-Christian in its entire content, and therefore irrelevant for Christians because the Church was instituted after the Sermon was given.  At the very least this is a blow to the continuity of Scripture and what God intended to do since the Fall of man.  At most, it is a blatant rejection of the Gospel.

The Problem of the Sermon on the Mount

In chapter eleven of Dispensationalism Today, Charles Ryrie, a well-known prolific writer from a Dispensational point of view, wrote that D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a British author of great esteem and respect, had inappropri­ately commented that

“… [Dispensational] teaching says, in effect, that the Sermon on the Mount has nothing to do with us … it is the law … of the kingdom of heaven, and has nothing whatsoever to do with Christians in the meantime.”

Ryrie writes, "this simply is not true … To represent [Dispensationalists] as so saying does not evince integrity."  Yet countless Dispensational writers have written that Dispensationalism does teach that the Sermon on the Mount (and all its content in the New Testament) has no reference to the Church age.  This is clearly depicted by another Dispensational writer who shows beyond the shadow of a doubt that what Lloyd Jones wrote was true.

Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, writes “it could not be that Christ was addressing the Christian Church in the Sermon on the Mount because the Church, as we know it, did not come into existence until Pentecost, and great Church truths are not here presented.  There is nothing about the Holy Spirit, our position in Christ, [or] redemption through the blood of Christ in this sermon ... As a way of salvation it is useless.... It is legal, not gracious in character, and is full of judgments and threats (Matthew 5:22-29).  It offers no salvation to any man.  The non-Christian world, which so admires this sermon, is condemned to hell by it.  As a way of sanctification it is useless.... the motive is fear, not love.... The way of grace is not here.”   

In a word, Dispensationalism teaches that what Christ articulated in the Sermon on the Mount is to be rejected and ignored by the Christian Church today.  

Dispensationalists believe that when the Sermon on the Mount references the word ‘kingdom,’ it means a literal Messianic, Jewish kingdom yet to be on earth; a kingdom that does not now exist, but that will one day exist in the distant, unknown future, where its King, Christ Jesus, will rule with a rod of iron.  Not surprisingly, even John MacArthur takes the Dispensational view that the kingdom consistently referred to in the Gospel of Matthew (‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done’) refers only to that Millennial Kingdom in the distant future. 

MacArthur suggests (MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Matthew 1-7, 380-381) that "... we are praying for God's rule through Christ's enthronement to come, His glorious reign on earth to begin... It is the coming millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4) of which the Lord is speaking ... the most obvious fact of life is that God is not now ruling on earth as He rules in heaven (Matt. 6:10c) -- and it is the divine earthly kingdom we are to pray will come... for Christ to return and to establish His earthly kingdom, to put down sin and enforce obedience to God's will."  The Lord will then "rule them with a rod of iron." 

Ryrie says of this kingdom that "some will accept Christ as their Savior, and others will not, though all, whether regenerated or not, will have to give outward allegiance to the authority of the King … all will apparently be obliged to give outward allegiance to Christ, but, as in every age, God will not compel them to receive the Savior" (Bible Doctrine, 176-178, italics mine).

This kingdom that Dispensationalists mistakenly equate with the Millennial kingdom of God will be filled with unregenerate, unsaved people.  There is unanimous agreement about this among them.  For example, Ryrie writes, "The end of the millennium will see the last and final revolt of man and Satan against God and all of His rule… many born during the millennium will choose not to receive the saving grace of the King (Bible Doctrine, 178)." All this of course takes place in the Millennial Kingdom "in which our Lord will reign the earth in righteousness … this is the secret peace on earth -- a Ruler who can enforce peace righteously… and the world shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord."  Pentecost writes in Things To Come, 551, quoting Louis Sperry Chafer, "it may be inquired why, with Him upon the throne of the universe, He ever permitted the evil which He hates … there is no understanding how a multitude, "the number of whom is as the sand of the sea (Rev. 20:8) could revolt against His beneficence all their lives."

It sounds to me like the Millennial kingdom is anything but perfect and peaceful as the Dispensationalist dreams, which just throws more baggage into that whole system of thought.
     
So think this through with me: here is Christ, someday in the distant future, ruling with a rod of iron in supposedly perfect righteousness and peace during the Millennium which He is calling us to pray for in the Disciple's prayer; He is demanding outward allegiance from people whose hearts are unregenerate, who in truth hate being obedient and long for the day they can rebel against Christ's Messianic rule with Satan himself at the end of the peaceful and perfect thousand year reign of Jesus the King.  And that teaching, no less, is after the Sermon on the Mount where Christ tells us that those who are blessed are the spiritually bankrupt, who recognize their complete lack of righteousness and who mourn over their sin, and hunger and thirst after the true biblical revelation of  righteousness which comes by faith alone in Christ alone; something which the New and Old Testament alike repeatedly affirms can only happen to those who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit!

Supposedly then, what God really does want after all, is for the unregenerate to bow down to Jesus for a thousand years, knowing full well that they can't and won't be willing do so because they are dead in sin.  And all the while it's an utterly forced and phony obedience, not from the heart; these unregenerate people that fill this literal kingdom do it only so they won't get beaten with the rod of iron.  And to top it off, the Lord and God are supposedly satisfied with this worship ... and for a thousand years ... after which there is complete rebellion among all the unregenerate as they finally join Satan to demonstrate their complete dissatisfaction with Christ's perfect, peaceful rule! 

Frankly, I don't get how someone can think this theological position doesn’t really matter.
 
Again, one must wonder why Christ would even choose to bother to teach anything from the Sermon to the Jews of His day, without mentioning that its reality was thousands of years off, if indeed He knew what He was teaching them was to be implemented, or had value, more than two thousand years into the future!  Yet that Christ was proclaiming a kingdom that was to be literal and political in nature only in the distant future is evidenced prolifically by Dispensational authors.      

The Dispensational Concept of the Nature of the Kingdom

Still more troubling is the way that Dispensationalists comprehend the nature of the kingdom that was offered to the Jews by God at Christ’s first advent.  Is it to be understood as a spiritual kingdom, or was the kingdom that Christ offered a literal,  political millennial kingdom?  How does our conception of the kingdom that God offered Israel at His first advent influence our interpretation of the book of Revelation and Christ's supposed future thousand-year reign on earth with Israel?

If indeed that was Christ's intention, (to set up a political millennial kingdom at His first advent), then what are we to make of the notion that Christ was apparently not able to accomplish what He actually intended to come here to do?   

“The Lord was not asserting that His kingdom was to be a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of men.  Such is contrary to the entire tenor of the Word of God" (Things To Come, Dwight Pentecost, 452).
          "It was the Davidic kingdom which Jesus offered and not the general rule of God over the earth or His spiritual reign in individual lives.... The kingdom the Lord preached was something different from either the general rule of God in His overall sovereignty or the rule of God in the individual heart" (Dispensationalism Today, Ryrie, 173).
           
I do not believe that Christ is telling us in the Disciple's Prayer in Matthew 6 to be praying for the "millennial kingdom."  MacArthur says that "it will not be a kingdom of this world -- that is, the present world system," referring to John 18:36.  [Thayer's Greek Lexicon says that the use of kingdom there in John 18:36 refers to a kingdom that is not of "earthly origin and nature" (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, 357).  I take Christ's remark to mean that this kingdom is not like a kingdom that originates here; it is not material in nature, not of a physical nature as one could only get on the earth, but rather a kingdom with a purely spiritual nature.  Obviously it is not "of this present world system" as MacArthur claims!  I believe that the kingdom Christ is referring to exists in the world right now, but its nature or moving force originates in the world of the Spirit.   

In John 18 it is very clear that Christ says that if His kingdom were of this world, He would have people fighting over it right now, so valiantly that He would not have been delivered to the Jews (John 18:36).  The fact that Jesus was handed over to the Jews proves that His kingdom is not from here and is of a spiritual nature.  His deliverance to the Jews, and the fact that no one was fighting for His earthly kingdom then proves that His kingdom is not a material one of this world! 

Furthermore, would He not have reigned in His physical, Messianic, political kingdom had God sovereignly ordained it?  There is absolutely no way that an exegete can honestly say that Christ is telling the disciples to pray for a "millennial" kingdom. 

The Significance of Keeping Israel and the Church Eternally Distinct in Dispensational Theology

Dispensationalists teach that Israel and the church are to remain eternally distinct.  The importance of understanding this teaching has many implications and ramifications.  Charles Ryrie has clearly spoken for Dispensational teaching about this subject in a clear and undeniable way.  In Dispensationalism Today, he writes "A Dispensationalist keeps Israel and the Church distinct" (44).  He quotes Fuller as writing that 'the basic premise of Dispensationalism is two purposes of God expressed in the formation of two peoples who maintain their distinction throughout eternity' (44-45)." 

Quoting Louis Sperry Chafer he adds:
“The Dispensationalist believes that throughout the ages God is pursuing two distinct purposes: one related to the earth with earthly people and earthly objectives involved which is Judaism: while the other is related to heaven with heavenly people and heavenly objectives involved, which is Christianity.”  

Again in Dispensationalism Today (173), Ryrie writes "The church is kept distinct as another purpose of God in addition to His kingdom purposes."  His summary of the chapter entitled 'What Is A Dispensationalist' in the same book concludes, "the essence of Dispensationalism, then, is the distinction between Israel and the Church." 

Elsewhere Charles Ryrie adds to the confusion about the kingdom by writing "But though redeemed and assured of heaven, [these redeemed Israelites] will apparently not be a part of the body of Christ, which will be distinct from other redeemed people.... The point is, however, that there are distinct groups of believers in heaven. Distinction is maintained even though destiny is the same."

John Gerstner writes in his critique of Dispensational theology that "Consistent with their view of the Abrahamic covenant as an eternal pact pertaining only to ethnic Jews, Dispensationalists view Israel and the church as having distinct eternal destinies.  Israel is an earthly people with an earthly promise and an earthly destiny eternally.  As we saw, Israel is an eternal nation, heir to an eternal land, with an eternal kingdom, on which David rules from an eternal throne.  There will be an endless succession of human generations upon the earth but never the twain, Israel and the church shall meet.  And as John Nelson Darby [the founder of the Plymouth Brethren and perhaps the first to make these doctrinal distinctions about Dispensationalism -- RB] wrote, "The Jewish nation is never to enter the Church."


Actually, Covenant Theology does not ignore national Israel per se, they just put them in their rightful place among all sinners of the world, seeing them as part and parcel of the entire plan of God from the beginning and as no different from anyone else who denies Christ.  In opposition to the Dispensational view, the Amillennial/Covenant view sees the church and believing Israel, not as two separate peoples with distinct destinies (Israel a national, material eternity on earth and the Church a heavenly spiritual eternity in heaven), but as one people of God. This is consistent theology. 

And I agree with most of George Ladd's views about the kingdom (laid out clearly in his A Theology of the New Testament). For Ladd, spiritual/remnant/believing Israel (who must become part of the Church if we want our theology to be consistent) has taken the place of literal/national/material/unbelieving Israel, who will be treated in eternity like every other unbeliever -- having the wrath of God poured out on them.

Some of the promises made to literal/material/physical Israel are fulfilled in the church (see Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 1043). Both Ladd and Erickson believe (true)/believing/remnant Israel, will be saved by entering the church, just as do the believing Gentiles. If I'm not mistaken, this is exactly the excellent point Paul makes in Ephesians 2:14-15. There is no statement anywhere in the N.T. that there is any other basis for salvation than Jesus Christ. The Reformed view is that the Church is the new Israel in this: they have had the barrier of enmity removed.

New Testament and Old Testament believers all make up the Church, and are people of the spiritual kingdom of God. If there is a special future for national Israel, as the Dispensationalists claim, it is through large-scale conversion and entrance into the Church as it is with all believers (1043).  They become united in Christ through faith like everyone else.  Erickson adds (of Ladd) that “those who were part of (believing) Israel prior to Pentecost have been incorporated into the church .... If the O.T. believers, those who made up true Israel, were saved like us, upon the basis of Christ's redemptive life and death, then they ... have been swept into the same body as N.T. believers. Israel was not, then, simply succeeded by the Church; rather, (spiritual/believing/remnant Israel) was included within the church. The people of God are truly one people; the body of Christ is truly one body (1048-49).”  No one has a biblical basis for suggesting that the nation of Israel is ignored except for the distortions of Dispensational theology.

Just so you get the idea of how rampant this view is among Dispensational teaching, elsewhere, W. J. Grier, a non-Dispensational theologian, wrote that

“A leading pre-millenarian, L. S. Chafer (founder and president of of Dallas Theological Seminary [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Sperry_Chafer]), says that after this gospel age there will be 'the re-gathering of Israel and the restoration of Judaism', and that there is 'an earthly people who go on as such into eternity, and a heavenly people who also abide in their heavenly calling for ever'; that is, God will have two distinct peoples, one on the earth and the other in heaven, for ever and ever.  This may be consistent literalism, but surely it is a veritable delirium of folly.”

Robert L. Saucy, professor at Talbot Theological Seminary has written, "This en-grafting [of the church into the great promises of blessing] is not to replace Israel or to fulfill her specifically national prophesies ... Rather, both Israel and the church share in their distinctive phases in God's program as the people of God through whom He will be glorified."  (The Church in God's Program, 82).

Dwight Pentecost, in Things To Come, 572, writes "Since [saved Gentiles] are said to inherit life [when they inherit a kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world, (Matthew 25:46)], it must be eternal life.  This would indicate that individuals will be saved and have eternal life and yet will be distinct from Israel."

Elsewhere, in the same book, page 529, Pentecost affirms the Dispensational belief in two separate programs for the Church and Israel when he writes that "Scripture is unintelligible until one can distinguish clearly between God's program for His earthly people Israel and that for the church."

The troubling aspect of the propensity of Dispensationalism to maintain this distinction between Israel and the Church is that Dispensationalism maintains the distinction as an eternal one.  This of course suggests that into eternity, God will be relating to Israel and all believing Israelites of the Old Testament (in an entirely different way than He will relate to all the rest of the people in the world, and all New testament believers).   

The common New Testament distinctions that Christ made regarding the eternal results of belief and unbelief, and between the eternal fate of believers and unbelievers, is totally obscured in this Dispensational teaching.  Where Christ teaches that New Testament believers are saved and with Christ, and non-believers who refuse Christ are eternally separated from Him are the only two prerequisites for entering into an eternal relationship with the Father, Dispensationalism blurs this teaching by making God maintain an eternal relationship with Israel that is neither based on their faith nor their unbelief, but rather on their national heritage. 

The Offer of the Kingdom

There is so much that hinges on this concept of the "offer" of the kingdom, that it is crucial to grasp the significance of this idea. Clearly, Dispensationalism teaches that Jesus Christ's purpose was to come to earth to set up an earthly kingdom.  He came to fulfill and set up the political, Messianic promises God had made to Israel, where Christ would have ruled literally from the throne of David.

All Dispensationalists that I have read are in agreement that the "gospel" then, was a happy accident.  What else could it be other than an accident, once one begins to understand how this point of view sees Divine sovereignty?  Of course, they would never describe it that way, yet that is undeniably what it is.  Dispensationalism insists that Christ came for the purpose of setting up a literal earthly kingdom.  Christ's death on the cross came about because He was unable to fulfill His real purposes here on earth.  In dispensational teaching, Jesus Christ was a failure in His first Advent on earth.  He was unable to accomplish the real purpose God had for Him.  But worse than saying He was a failure, is coming to grips with the reason why He ultimately failed.  He failed because the whole plan of God, according to Dispensationalism, was capable from the start, of being thwarted by the wills of apostate Jews!  Christ's death on the cross was entirely dependent upon the faithlessness of the Jews, even though according to Dispensationalism, we are assured that God intended the Jews to make Christ their Messianic king in His first advent.  Had they responded as they were supposed to have responded, there never would have been a "gospel"!  Had they accepted this supposed offer of a kingdom, Christ would never have gone to the cross.  But because the Jews didn't accept God's supposed offer, it made it necessary for God to accomplish a greater purpose, Plan B, namely the salvation of souls.  

The idea that there would never have been a cross had the Jews responded as God had supposedly wanted them to according to Dispensational theology is not only totally appalling, but is a blatant rejection of the gospel!  This issue forces one to question everything in Dispensationalism!  You might want to ask yourself a question in the process, and perhaps you will be better able to grasp what I went through with this whole issue when I began to think through the consequences to holding to this view.

If you were to discover that what you had thought about God’s intention in all of Scripture all along was entirely wrong, no matter how ingrained its "rightness" was in your thinking, and that it had some fatal flaws in its grasp of theology, the gospel, and the Bible, would you bail it entirely?  Or would you sort of avoid certain issues that were questionable theologically?  (For instance: how on earth could a Dispensationalist say that God made a "bona fide" offer of a literal kingdom to the Jews, knowing full well that He could never sincerely offer it and at the same time, anticipate Israel's acceptance of it, and have Christ die on the cross to pay for the sins of the world?)  Would you remain a staunch supporter of it regardless of its inability to answer some serious theological problems?  One of the most difficult things to do is to stand up and categorically reject Dispensationalism as a whole, especially when you have graduated from a Dispensational seminary like I did, until one asks oneself, "what exactly would I be giving up if I bailed Dispensationalism entirely?"  And the answer is "surprisingly little", yet Dispensationalists make it seem as though one would be giving up the only truth ever founded on Biblical grounds someone gave up Dispensationalism as a theological position. 
           
What if the Jews had accepted Jesus' offer to establish an earthly Davidic kingdom at His first Advent?  Then there would have been no salvation via the cross. God was making Israel a very wicked offer that He never could have kept if indeed He offered them a legal earthly kingdom.  Had the Jews accepted His offer of a kingdom, this would have destroyed the only way of man's salvation, and would have made the cross an impossible option.  I take it that you believe that God cannot lie, and that He is truthful and honest!  Yet, if God did offer a kingdom to the Jews that He neither intended to allow nor wanted them to accept, then it could not have been a bona fide offer in the first place, as every Dispensationalist wants to somehow believe, and God is therefore neither honest nor sincere.  The reality of the problem is that had the Jews accepted this supposed "bona fide" offer, God could not have possibly redeemed His promise He made to Abraham, thus making Himself a liar, if indeed the offer was "bona fide."

Furthermore, if Christ never intended to set up an earthly reign at His first Advent, and if indeed His coming was to establish a spiritual reign in the hearts of the elect and die on a cross for the redemption of their souls for eternity, then there will never be, nor was there ever a need for, a literal millennium at the end time where Jesus Christ reigns on earth on the throne of King David over the Jews!  Dispensational theology needs a literal millennium because Jesus has more work to do with Israel.  That is why Amillennarians insist that there is no need to fulfill a literal thousand-year period where Christ rules on the throne of David on earth, because that was never what He intended to do at His first Advent!  The Gospel teaches that Christ finished His work!  He absolutely fulfilled all that the Father ever had for Him to do here on earth with perfect obedience and timeliness.  Therefore, there must be some other interpretation of the word "millennium" in Revelation other than a literal time period where Jesus sits on a throne and has some kind of rekindled sacrificial relationship with Israel.

As I have attempted to grasp the differences here between Dispensationalism and Covenant thinking, I believe the problem hinges on a Dispensational misunderstanding of what it means to be in union with Christ.  Let me share some more with you about that.   
We have seen that Dispensation­alism sees the Church (which supposedly did not begin until the Day of Pentecost) and Israel as two different people of God for all eternity.  Dispensationalism teaches that Old Testament saints are not in union with Christ, or placed into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, even though they are true believers, have genuine faith in the promised work of God to send the Messiah through the seed of Abraham, and are redeemed according to Dispensationalists, they are never part of the Church. 

In Genesis 15, Abraham believed by faith the Word of God about the promise of the Messiah who was to come through his lineage, and God accounted it to him for righteousness.  This is exactly the same thing that happens to believers in the New Testament who are placed in union with Christ as the New Testament affirms.

The question then is: is that distinction that Dispensationalism makes about the nature of the kingdom one that is superficially applied or imposed by Dispensationalists because of their strict interpretation and understanding about what took place at Pentecost? 

What is the basis for the salvation of sinners?  It has always been and will always be the shed blood of Christ.  His salvation is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He is the only Savior in all dispensations. The cross of Christ is the only way of justification for everyone from Adam to the last elect saint, isn't that correct?  (This is critical, as you will see).  The blood of Christ is the only ground of salvation for all sinners in God’s plan.  There is redemption through no other means. 

Dispensation­alists teach that O. T. saints are not the heirs of the Holy Spirit and are not regenerated and grafted by the Holy Spirit into Christ in the same way that N.T. saints are.  The extent to which this concept is prolific in Dispensationalism is clear.

“...union with Christ does not happen until we receive Him as Savior and we consequently are at that moment baptized into His body by the Holy Spirit.  In other words, the historical actions of Christ's death and resurrection become part of our personal history when we believe (Ryrie, Bible Doctrine, 124).”

Elsewhere he writes “...what is it Spirit baptism does? … it places the believer in the body of Christ.  Since this is the only way to enter the body (i.e., by the baptizing work of the Spirit), and since this work of the Spirit first occurred on the day of Pentecost, then the conclusion seems obvious that the church, the body of Christ, began on the day of Pentecost (Bible Doctrine, 158).”

Yet he follows on the same page with this comment: “Just as there were redeemed Israelites before the day of Pentecost … and though redeemed and assured of heaven, they will apparently not be a part of the body of Christ, which will be distinct from other redeemed people.” 

How can those who are redeemed in the same way, by the same Savior, through the same redemption (shed blood), throughout all time, be a different people?  If you say, "They can’t be", then welcome to the discussion of the problem.  But in saying and believing that, you must also bail all other notions that repudiate that statement that they are a different people, unless it is your desire to be utterly inconsistent in your theology, which apparently does not bother most Dispensationalists one bit!! 

Let's run through the typical Dispensational understanding of what happens theologically when we become New Testament believers.

1) When we receive Christ as Savior, we are placed into union with Christ.
2) When we have received Him as Savior and are in union with Him, the Holy Spirit then baptizes the believer into His body.
3) When we believe, the things Christ accomplished on the cross are applied to us (which I take to mean justification, propitiation, salvation, etc).
4) There is no other way to enter the body of Christ.
5) But Spirit baptism never happened before the day of Pentecost.
6) Because Spirit baptism never happened before the day of Pentecost, no O. T. believer can be in the church. 

Where is there any Scriptural evidence that it did not happen in the O.T. saint the way Ryrie says it only happens in the N.T. saint? 

7) The church was not in existence before the day of Pentecost.
8)  However, there were redeemed Jews before the day of Pentecost.
9) They were also assured of heaven but for eternity, these redeemed Israelites, will not be a part of the body of Christ.  They will remain eternally distinct from the redeemed body of believers, the Church, even though everything about their salvation is identical.

This of course affects how we perceive the kingdom, Christ's mission on earth, the millennium, and all of our theological understanding regarding the salvation process.

Therefore, the gist of this problem is that Jews, who are apparently redeemed and assured of heaven, are not saved, according to Ryrie and others, or are saved via some other means than the N. T. clearly maintains.  Yet, the N.T. teaches that redemption is coupled with justification and propitiation (Rom. 3:24; 1 Cor. 1:30).  On what basis does someone agree that those who are redeemed, justified and sanctified, are not saved like those are who came after the Day of Pentecost?  Doesn't redemption include forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7; Col.1: 14)? Can a redeemed person, whose sins are forgiven, not be in the Church?  The only other place I can find in the Bible for people who are not in the church (for eternity) is hell! 

Again, Pentecost writes, "There is a distinction between the true church and true or spiritual Israel.  Prior to Pentecost, there were saved individuals [he's obviously caught in the same warp as Ryrie], but there was no church, and they were a part of spiritual Israel, not the Church." (Things To Come, 199) …"these contrasts  which show the distinction between Israel and the Church, make it impossible to identify the two in one program" (202). 

Feel free to comment about this.  It is my hope that it will cause you to reflect on what you believe.  Blessings. 
......................

A helpful (albeit pro-Dispensational article): 25 Stupid Reasons for Dissing Dispensationalism
http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2006/11/twenty-five-stupid-reasons-for-dissing.html

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