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True Israel of God

Introduction

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven and Eight

 

 

 

   
     

 

The True Israel of God
by L. R. Shelton
 

Part VII

 

We have given Scriptural proof that the true Israel of God consists not in Abraham's seed after the flesh: "For these are not the children of God" (Rom 9:8), but consists in the children of the promise given to Abraham through the true Seed who is Christ. "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen [Gentiles] through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham...

 

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. ..therefore there is neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile], there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus, and if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal 3:29). Now the question is asked: When did God give Abraham these promises that the nations of the earth would be blessed through him, that his spiritual seed would be Christ and that those who by faith in Him would be heirs with Him of the same promises?



To answer this: let us go back to Genesis, the book of beginnings and listen as God speaks to Abraham. When we read the Scriptural account of the life of Abraham we find that there were four promises made to him by God Himself. They were: (1) the promise to make the descendants of Abraham into a great nation, (2) the promise of a great posterity, (3) the promise that Abraham's descendants would inherit the land of Canaan and (4) above all, the promise of the Messiah.



Let us look at each one of these and see how they were fulfilled, especially that last one concerning the promise of the Messiah and how we by faith in Him have the fulfillment of this promise as the spiritual seed of Abraham.



First: the promise to make the descendants of Abraham into a great nation. "Now the LORD said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing" (Gen 12:1-2). Was God faithful to perform that which He had spoken? Yes, some 400 years after His covenant with Abraham this promise was fulfilled. God had shown Abraham in Gen 15:13-14 that there would be a 400 year delay, but the time came when it was fulfilled. Also the Lord confirmed the promise to Jacob, Abraham's grandson: He said, "I am God, the God of thy father; fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation" (Gen 46:3).



This great promise was fulfilled under the leadership of Moses as the Israelites came forth out of bondage in Egypt, and under Joshua as they achieved their mighty victories in the land of Canaan. In Deut 2:25 we read that Moses testified that God caused the other nations to respect the greatness of Israel.



In exhorting the Israelites to obedience to the God of Abraham, Moses said: "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for" (Deut 4:6-7).



If you would read chapters 8-12 of Joshua, you would find that they testify to the unmistakable greatness of the nation of Israel as it marched triumphantly through the land of Canaan; end king David, looking back on those victories many years later, was moved to cry out to the Lord: "What one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his own people, to make thee a name of greatness and terribleness, by driving out nations from before thy people?" ( 1Chr 17:21)



We see then that this first promise to Abraham was fulfilled, for God had made of Abraham's physical seed a great nation which reached its zenith of power, strength and glory under the reigns of David and Solomon.



The second promise made to Abraham was the promise of a great posterity, that his descendants would be too numerous to count: God said,"And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth.: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered" (Gen 13:16). "Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, so shall thy seed be" (15:5). "As the sand which is upon the sea shore so shall thy seed be" (22:17).
 


We know that without the shadow of a doubt God fulfilled this promise as His Word confirms. Listen to king Solomon praying: "O LORD God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude" (2Chr 1:9) Moses said to Israel: "The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude" (Deut 1:10). And the writer of Hebrews agreed that the promise had been fulfilled: "Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude" (Heb 11:12).


And then finally we read that during the reign of Solomon: "Judah and Israel were as many as the sand which is by the sea in multitude" (1Kgs 4:20); and Hebrews affirms there sprang from Abraham descendants as innumerable "as the sand which is by the sea shore" (11:12). So we see then that this promise was also fulfilled for God surely made the physical seed of Abraham as the dust of the earth, as the sand of the sea, and as the stars of heaven for multitude. Now the third thing promised to Abraham was that his descendants would inherit the land of Canean. God repeated this promise many times: "Unto thy seed will I give this land" (Gen 12:7); "Lift up shine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever"(Gen 13:14-15); "I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it...to thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates" (Gen 15:7,18); "I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession" (Gen 17:8). Was God faithful to perform that which He had spoken?

 


Yes, hundreds of years later the descendants of Abraham went on to possess in peace all the land which the Lord had promised to them: "And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein, and the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass" (Josh 21:43-45).



Did the land they ruled really reach all the way from Egypt to the river Euphrates as promised by God in Gen 15:18? "Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt" 1 Kings 4:21. Was that river the Euphrates? Solomon "had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah" (1Kgs 4:24). Tiphsah was located on the Euphrates in Mesopotamia.



Why are we raising these questions? Because it is proclaimed by some today that God did not keep His promise to Israel at that time, and they did not rule over all the land; and therefore He must give Christ an earthly reign so these promises may be fulfilled. But these have already been fulfilled and God has kept His Word.
 


Now the fourth promise made to Abraham was the promise of the Messiah. This greatest of all the promises was not expressed to Abraham, or to Isaac or Israel, in those terms, but the true meaning of God's Word has long ago been shown to us. God said to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob or Israel: "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen 22:18, 26:4, 28:14). And the apostle Paul was shown by divine revelation the identity of the Seed in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed: "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" (Gal 3:16). This is the greatest of all the promises, that Abraham would bless the nations through his seed, Christ.



Has that promise been fulfilled? "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal 4:4); "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Yes, Christ came to redeem His people from their sins. He came as "the seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom 1:3), and in Him "all the promises of God are yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God" (2Cor 1:20). These promises are all spiritual promises made to Abraham's seed, Christ, and to us; and we are therefore heirs of these promises, and rightly called: "the true Israel of God."



"And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen [Gentile] through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham" (Gal 3:8-9). We find here then that the only way of blessing is to be a spiritual seed of Abraham and not a physical seed, for the blessing came through Christ only by the gospel; and this is the promise which God has given to us. The only way in which we can be partakers of the promises is by the new birth: or as Peter puts it, "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2Pet 1:4).



We must be born into the spiritual kingdom of God. This work is accomplished only by the Holy Spirit who plants in our hearts the incorruptible seed of the Word of God and makes us new creatures in Christ. This He does by calling us from the grave of sin (Eph 2:1-3), convicting us of the awful sin of unbelief (John 16:7-11), bringing us by the law to shut our mouths and to stand guilty before God (Rom 3:19-20), to cry: "God be merciful to me, the sinner" (Luke 18:13), to work in our hearts that godly sorrow which worketh repentance to salvation (1 Cor 7:10), to shut us up to the faith-way of salvation in Christ (Gal 3:24) and to reveal Christ in us (Gal 1:16) so that we may say: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20)



Having brought us to Christ, shown us our guilty, lost condition before God, and caused us to look away to Christ forever from every false hope, and this by faith, the Holy Spirit brings us by His Word into the realization that we are now heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17) and have been made to "sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph 2:6). Therefore we rule and reign with Him upon the earth as a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that we should show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1Pet 2:9).



Halleluia! Praise His holy and righteous name for His marvellous grace that "has made us kings and priests unto God" (Rev 1:6, 20:6) and therefore called "Blessed" by God Himself.

 

VIII

Let us see how God works by His Spirit in our hearts to bring us to Christ and translate us from the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of Satan, into the kingdom of Christ, thereby making us spiritual children of Abraham, the true Israel of God.



God's eternal purpose was that both Jew and Gentile would be fellow-heirs together of the same promises and that they would make up the church, the body of Christ, the true Israel of God, according to Eph 2:11-22. Now, the question is: How does He work in our hearts to bring us to Christ, seeing we are by nature alienated from the life of God? If we are made the true Israel of God in salvation, and if salvation is a spiritual thing, discerned and understood only by a spiritual man, then how is all of this going to be done, seeing the natural man is dead in trespasses and sins? (Eph 2:1). How is such a marvelous work going to be performed, if man is in such a condition, as we read, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" a Cor 2:9)?



How is a man going to believe when he does not know what and whom to believe, seeing he has no spiritual eyes with which to see his own sinfulness, and the beauty of the Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ?



How is a man going to repent when he has no knowledge of what to repent of? How is a man going to flee from the wrath to come when he has no knowledge of his danger as a criminal before a just and holy God? How is a man going to seek Christ when he has no idea of how to seek Him or of any need that Christ may fulfill for him? How is a man going to be constrained to seek light when he has no knowledge and is in spiritual darkness? How is a man going to love God when he does not know that he hates Him?



How is a man going to cry after liberty if he does not know he is in bondage? How can a man exercise a free will in choosing Christ when his will is enslaved by sin and Satan? How is a man going to seek heaven when he is ignorant that he is even going to hell? How is a man going to walk in the paths of righteousness and true holiness when he is satisfied with the paths of self-will, self-pleasing, self-confidence and self-righteousness?



How is a man going to pick himself up by his boot straps and bring himself to God, seeing he lies dead in sin? "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" (Jer 13:23). This is the prophet's reasoning: Since an Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor a leopard his spots, then neither can you who are accustomed to doing evil do good without the work of the Holy Spirit in your hearts and lives! Therefore, how are you going to be made the true Israel of God?



Dear Friend, all of this that I have given you is Scripture. This is the way the Bible describes our depraved hearts before God. Every man by nature is dead in trespasses and sins; he can not come to Christ, he will not come to Christ; he must be brought there by the Spirit of the living God. So, to be made a member of the body of Christ, to be made a part of the true Israel of God; it must be wholly and completely a work of God's distinguishing grace based upon the redemption of the Lord Jesus Christ by His blood-shedding at the cross. And since you and I by nature, both Jew and Gentile, lie dead in trespasses and sin, it is of a necessity that the Holy Spirit work in our hearts if we are ever saved and made the true Israel of God. We read in John 6:63, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing."


Did you hear that? - "the flesh profiteth nothing." He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, but he who is one inwardly whose heart has been circumcised by the Spirit of God (Rom 2:28-29) The flesh has no part in the work of God. "That which is born of flesh is flesh" (John 3:6). Therefore, for us to be saved, we must be born again by the instrument of the Word in the hands of the Holy Spirit, for "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." All fleshly activities amount to nothing where the regeneration of dead sinners is concerned. We must be born into the kingdom of God. Neither the logical arguments advanced by the mind, nor hypnotic powers brought to bear upon the will, nor touching appeals made to the emotions, nor beautiful music and hearty singing to catch the ear, nor sensuous trappings to draw the eye, are of the slightest avail in stirring dead sinners. It is not the choir, nor the soloist, nor the preacher, but the Spirit that quickens.



The Holy Spirit finds you and I wedded to our natural stock: wedded to our lusts, wedded to our pride, wedded to our self-righteousness, wedded to our self-sufficiency, and He must, by the law of God, cut us off from the natural stock and graft us by faith into Christ, into the good olive tree, and thereby make us one with Him, and therefore the true Israel of God.



When the Holy Spirit comes to us He finds us "rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing" (Rev 3:17). So therefore, He has to bring the law of God into our hearts and begin to convince us of sin, righteousness and of judgment, and show us that we are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked before God, destitute of any righteousness that God will accept.



Again, the Holy Spirit must convince us that though we pray and seek the knowledge of the Bible, and strictly observe the Lord's day and attend the gospel ministry, and even though our neighbors see a great change in us outwardly, yet, if we have not been broken from our doings and our duties laying at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ emptied of all self, we are still attached to the natural olive tree and have not been completely cut away and grafted into Christ and thereby becoming the true Israel of God.



You see, dear friend, the soul that God saves and makes his child must come to know somewhat of its own emptiness and of its own nothingness before God (Mat 5:3).



Now let me ask you a question. If indeed, as the pretribulationists and the premillennialists say, that the Holy Spirit is going to go up at the secret rapture of the church; I pray ask you who is going to do this work in the hearts of all those so-called millions who are supposed to be saved during the tribulation and in the millennium (if there was one)? Who is going to work that work of salvation in them when it takes the power of God's Spirit to do it? The answer to that question is that this is the day of grace; now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation: there will be no hope after Christ comes for any yet lost. There will be no second chance, for when Christ comes the second time, the door of salvation will be shut forever (Mat 25:10). Let us go further. The Holy Spirit in breaking off and cutting from the natural tree, must show the sinner that he is a transgressor from the womb, that he came into the world a guilty creature; and that in the time of his ignorance and ever since his birth, he has been guilty of many actual sins, and if those sins are not covered by the blood of Christ, they will cause him to perish for ever.



Again, the Holy Spirit must show the soul that, for all he does, he is a "sinner" still, that his best labors are an abomination in the sight of God and that his own righteousness is as filthy rags in the sight of God. My friend, even though you do your best, the best that you can, you are still a sinner, and even your best labors are still works of darkness in the eyes of God. You still abide under the curse of God, under God's holy and righteous law: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal 3:10). No matter what you do, you cannot satisfy the demands of God's holy law. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). Has the Holy Spirit thus dealt with your soul?
 


Again, the Holy Spirit must show you that God will not accept part from you and part from Christ. Salvation must be all of Christ; you must be engrafted into Him by His work alone; wholly by the work of God's Holy Spirit. We find like Jonah did in the belly of the whale, that "salvation is of the Lord." And it is only by the operation of the Holy Spirit of God that any of us are made the true Israel of God.



Again, the Holy Spirit must show you that saving faith is a gift. We receive it from above. The faith of the natural man is not the faith of God's elect. This surely strips us at the feet of Christ, knowing for the first time in our lives that we are at the mercy of another, guilty, lost, ruined, undone and helpless. If it were not for the grace and power of God the Holy Spirit we would be lost and lost for ever.



This is why I praise the Lord. Oh, I praise Him. I was a religionist, lost and going to hell, without hope and without God. But God, the Holy Spirit, came and wooed me and won me and brought me to Christ and worked in my heart by stripping me down at His feet and letting me see that I couldn't believe Him. I didn't know what true saving faith was. It wasn't the faith that I could work up, but it was the faith that God gives.



You see, this is where the Holy Spirit has been bringing the poor lost sinner all the while, to a state of poverty of spirit, nothing in himself, all in Christ. It is here that He gives faith to lay hold of Christ as the poor sinner's Lord, Savior and Deliverer. It is right here, in this way, that he is engrafted into the True Vine, the Lord Jesus Christ, by faith, and thereby made the true Israel of God. We are born into the kingdom of God by the Spirit of God and it is by the operation of the Spirit that we are cut off from the old natural stump, the old natural tree, and contrary to nature, are grafted into Christ, the good Olive Tree. If we were cut off from the natural and grafted into the natural, we could only bring forth that which we always brought forth, sin. But we are taken out, cut completely away from the old stock, and grafted in against nature, into the true vine, the Lord Jesus Christ and His life begins to flow in us.

 

Listen! Christ lays hold of a sinner and draws him to Himself; for by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body who is Christ. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit, communicates to the repenting, believing sinner His faith, the faith of the Son of God, He thereby enables the soul to lay hold of the Lord Jesus Christ. He comes to our hearts as the sealing Spirit and abides in the believing soul and thereby makes Christ precious and real to the heart and soul of that poor sinner.



Listen now! Having grafted the sinner into Christ, the poor soul now gets a ravishing sight of Christ. He sees His excellency; he sees His beauty; he sees His glory as being revealed in the gospel, and he sees in Christ a full, suitable, willing Savior. The sinner receives a new heart and a new nature to enjoy, trust and delight in this Blessed Savior, to honor and to commune with Him and to hold Him by faith, so that he can not let Him go. Why? Because he has been engraved upon the very palms of the hands of Christ, and by His stripes he has been healed from the hurt of sin.
 


Again the Holy Spirit in giving faith furnishes the sinner with the feet to come to Christ and heart to receive Him. What the sinner could not do by nature, he can do by grace, God "makes us willing in the day of his power." The soul that once tried all remedies for his sin-sick soul, now finds in Christ his life, for he has been engrafted into the branch through which flows all of the life-giving sap from the root. Christ is the root, trunk and the branch, and we are one in Him and for this I praise Him and rejoice in what He has done for my never-dying soul.



Truly then the soul that has been grafted into Christ is spoken of as being "married" to Christ, bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. He is spoken of as being a member of His body, and our body becoming His temple, the temple or dwelling place of His Spirit, and he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. We have been made one in Him. The soul redeemed by the grace of God and made the true Israel of God can now say: My beloved is mine and I am His; His life is my life; His inheritance is my inheritance; His name has become my name; His character, my character; His righteousness, my righteousness; His glory, my glory; His standing in heaven, my standing.



Now as the true Israel of God, the saved soul looks for a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness and where God will be all in all manifested unto us in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We shall follow the Lamb whither soever He goeth and rejoice in Him throughout eternity that ever He elected us, called us, justified us: and glorified us in Himself. I praise Him for letting me see and know the scope of His eternal purpose, that is, that all things would head up in the Lord Jesus Christ; and that He would take dead, vile, wretched, hell-deserving sinners, both Jew and Gentile, who deserve nothing but to be cast out of His presence forever, and make them His very own. He graciously gives them a new heart and a new nature, and calls them His heirs, His children, and this work is performed by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. These blood-washed ones will be with Him forever to behold His glory and sing His praises throughout eternity with Christ, their Lord and Savior, ruling and reigning.

 

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