All Scripture quotations are from the 1901 American Standard Version.
1 John 4:14
14 And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself.
22 Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; 26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: 29 for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; 30 because we are members of his body. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church.
28 Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.
42 and they said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy speaking: for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.
John 10:11, 15-16
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep…..15 even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock, one shepherd.
“Saviour of the world” (Jn 4:42)
“whosoever believes” (Jn 3:16)
“will draw all men” (Jn 12:32)
“the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
“head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body. (Eph 5:23)
“even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it;” (Eph 5:25)
“that he might present the church to himself” (Eph 5:27)
“Saviour of the body” (Eph 5:23)
“the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11)
“other sheep” (Jn 10:16)
“one flock” (Jn 10:16)
(both believing Jews and Gentiles)
“members of his body” (Eph 5:30)
That these passages teach corporate election is evident. The Church is a corporate body. It’s the body of Christ. He “gave himself up for it” (Eph 5:25); He “purchased [it] with his own blood” (Acts 20:28); He is “the saviour of the body” (Eph 5:23). Where Jesus mentions the “sheep” in John 10:11,15, and “other sheep” of verse 16, this equals the “one flock” (believing Jews and believing Gentiles) of the same verse — which equals “the Church.” The terms one flock, His body, the Church — are not singular, but corporate terms. Thus election refers, not to individuals, but to the corporate people of God.
Calvinism teaches the unconditional election of individuals. It teaches that the elect are individuals whom God has chosen to believe unto salvation before they come into the world. These are specific people who are born into the world as those who have already been marked out by God for salvation. However, as the scriptures above indicate, it’s not specific individuals who have been marked out by God, but a people group. God called a people out of this world to save and to represent Him. He does this through His Elect Son, the one true Elect individual (Lu 9:35). We as individuals have our election in Christ, in our union with Christ and His Church. Therefore, the true elect of God is the corporate body of Christ, which is the Church.
In the general sense, Jesus is the Savior of the world. Meaning, that He alone saves, that there is salvation in no other (Jn 14:6; Acts 4:12), that He is the only means of salvation that God has provided. It does not mean that He saves every person who comes into the world. He is the Savior of the world in the sense that He died for all and that salvation is available to all who hear the gospel message (Jn 12:32; Jn 20:31). Thus provision of salvation and availability of salvation is an offer that pertains to this life. However, specifically and experientially and as it relates to eternity, Jesus saves those who respond to the gospel message in faith. He is the Savior of those who actually place their trust in Him — and have, thereby, become members of His Church. Provisionally, Jesus is the Savior of the world; effectively, He’s the Savior of those who willingly receive the offer that’s been made available to them. Now and throughout eternity, it’s His Church that stands alone as His people. It’s the members of His Church that experience the salvation that He provided. Therefore, it’s in that sense that Christ died for the Church — the elect corporate people of God.
In summary, we as individuals are not the elect. We don’t come into the world as predetermined elect individuals. But rather through faith in Christ we become individual members of that which is elect, and that is His Elect Church. “The elect” is a corporate title of identification, one that identifies us with Christ as the people of God — as a distinct people from the rest of the world. It has nothing to do with the selective choosing of individuals — except that God chooses to save any individual who comes to Him via faith in His Son….and then unites them to His Church. While Christ died to save individuals, as it pertains to the doctrine of election, it’s the corporate people of God who are in view.
Israel and the Church
How can God have a plan for a single ethnic nation that is separate from the plan He has for His Church? Believers are all one in Christ. That means all believers of all nations are one in Christ. How then, can there be a plan where God turns His attention away from His Church – of whom Christ is Head – to once again, place His attention back on the nation of Israel? Consider the following scriptures:
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, 15 having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; 16 and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him:
6 But it is not as though the word of God hath come to nought. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel: 7 neither, because they are Abraham’s seed, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed.
Galatians 3:16, 26-29
16 Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ…..26 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. 28 There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.
These passages reveal that all ethnic groups are done away with in Christ. We are all one in Christ. We are a completely new creation (2 Cor 5:17), a completely new entity, a completely new people. In Christ, God doesn’t recognize ethnicities. He doesn’t recognize nations. The true seed of Abraham is Christ and those who are in Him. There are only two groups of people in the eyes of God, those who are in Christ and those who are not.
The idea that God has a separate plan for Israel apart from the Church, is in direct conflict with what Paul taught, where all ethnic groups are done away with in Christ. Truth harmonizes, and there’s simply no harmony between the idea of a separate plan for the nation of Israel and with what Paul reveals in his teachings. Paul was Himself a Jew, a Pharisee who knew the Old Testament (OT) Scriptures. Therefore, in presenting this new revelation, he was obviously aware of the OT teaching regarding Israel. Thus it’s completely reasonable that he was revealing the New Testament (NT) interpretation and fulfillment of those OT prophecies regarding Israel and what Israel was to become in Christ and His Church.
There is only one plan of redemption for mankind, and only one people in Christ — a completely new people, neither Jew nor Gentile. Christ died for only one nation, and that is a spiritual nation, which Peter identifies as the Church:
1 Peter 2:3-10
3 if ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious: 4 unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious, 5 ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Because it is contained in scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: And he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame. 7 For you therefore that believe is the preciousness: but for such as disbelieve, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner; 8 and, A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; for they stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Compare with Paul:
11 Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; 12 that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, 15 having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; 16 and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 and he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh: 18 for through him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father. 19 So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, 20 being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone; 21 in whom each several building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.
The Church is a “holy temple in the Lord” because we are Israel in Christ. Just as the temple of the OT was associated with the ethnic nation of Israel, so is the temple of the NT associated with the spiritual nation of Israel, which is the Church. The reason why the temple of God is now a spiritual temple, is because Israel is now a spiritual nation. It makes perfect sense. The temple of God of the OT continues as a spiritual temple in Christ of the NT. The physical temple of Israel (along with Jerusalem) was destroyed in AD 70, and never again to have a place in the plan of God. Jesus Himself said, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matt 23:38). And again He said:
42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner; This was from the Lord, And it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And he that falleth on this stone shall be broken to pieces: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will scatter him as dust. (Matt 21:42-44)
In that passage Jesus says that the “kingdom of God shall be taken away from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” In other words, the kingdom of God would be taken away from the nation of Israel and given to the Church. Bringing forth the fruit of God’s kingdom can only refer to the Church (Ro 7:4; Gal 5:22-23; Eph 5:9; Ph 1.11; Col 1:6,10), which Jesus refers to as a nation, and which Peter also identifies as a nation — that is, a spiritual nation, as we’ve already seen (1 Pet 2:3-10).
It should be clear by now that God does not have a future plan for national Israel that is separate from His Church. However, lest there be any doubts, the most certain reason we know that God does not and cannot have a future plan for the nation of Israel is because Jesus Himself is the nation of Israel, as a nation of One:
16 Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Gal 3:16)
I regard this as the single most important verse in the NT as it relates to the true identity of Israel under the New Covenant. Paul reveals that the promises to Abraham and to his “seed” (offspring) were actually given to Christ – not to the general “seeds” of Abraham who were in his line – but specifically to Christ alone. The true seed of Abraham is singular, not plural. The promises pointed directly to Jesus, not to the general offspring of Abraham. They are, in fact, excluded in those promises — except in Christ through faith in Him. Therefore, Jesus Himself is True Israel, — a nation of One. The Church is, thus, spiritual Israel (spiritual Jews) in Him, as Paul reveals in the next verses in the same chapter:
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:26-29)
Note verse 29. Only in Christ are we Abraham’s seed. That means that ethnic Israel is excluded, except as individual Jews receive Him as their Lord and Savior. We must conclude that the nation of Israel is no longer recognized by God, that Christ and His Church are the fulfillment of the OT promises and prophecies regarding Israel. Israel has its fulfillment and continuation in Christ and His Church as a spiritual nation. What began as a physical nation, continues in Christ as a spiritual nation. Those OT passages about the future of Israel are types and shadows of Christ and His Church, spoken of in figurative language. Both Paul and Peter provide strong evidence that that’s the way they understood them.
Conclusion: Jesus alone fulfilled the will of God for Israel (De 28:1-2). He alone has the right to bear the name of Israel, as one who came through the physical line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. All other Jews are on equal footing with the rest of the world and have their full blessing in Christ and His Church as every other believer. Their Israel-identity is no longer ethnic or national, but spiritual — as spiritual offspring of Abraham (Gal 3:29). Our only identity is who we are in Christ, which is a whole new creation where the old things are now in the past and all things are new in Him (2 Cor 5:17). Hence, Israel’s old identity as a nation is meaningless in Him.
For these reasons it would be inconsistent that God still has a future plan for the nation of Israel. It would be inconsistent that there will ever be a time where God sets aside His focus on His Church – for whom Christ died and of whom He is Head – in order to accomplish some other purpose in the world. Jesus and His Church are always and forever linked (Eph 3:21). This union is inseparable and always work together to accomplish God’s purposes in the world.
Israel and Corporate Election
Everything we’ve covered in this study explains why election has to be corporate, and not the predetermined selective choosing of individuals. Just as God chose the nation of Israel of the Old Covenant, so did God choose His Son (Matt 12:18; Lu 9:35), who is True Israel of the New Covenant. This means that election is in Him as the True Elect of God. He is the Corporate Head of the Church (Eph 5:23) — whom, as we’ve seen, the Scriptures identify as a spiritual nation, which is spiritual Israel — for we are spiritual offspring of Abraham through Christ.
Jacob, who was renamed by God as Israel (Ge 32:28), was a type of Christ — for he was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. Together they made up the nation of Israel. Just as Jacob was the head of national Israel, the corporate people of God, so is Christ the Head of the Church (spiritual Israel), the corporate people of God. Jacob was a type of Christ, and national Israel was a type of the Church. Therefore, the Church – as spiritual Israel – is the elect in Christ. The corporate choosing of OT Israel has its fulfillment and continuation in Christ and His Church. This is a consistent theology from Old Testament to New Testament.
The idea that the doctrine of election refers to individuals doesn’t fit. It doesn’t make sense. Sound theology is a Christocentric theology. A true theology begins and ends with Christ. As individuals in Christ, we are members of the elect body of believers. Just as individuals were born into the elect ethnic nation of Israel, so must individuals be born into the elect spiritual nation of Israel, which is the Church. We become one of the elect as individuals only when we come into union with Christ and His Church.
I realize this is an upsetting subject for dispensationalists. But until one sees that Christ is central and completely fulfills the plan of God for Israel, there will always be confusion about Israel and the Church and how they relate to one another. There will always be confusion about the doctrine of election. A Christ-centered theology is consistent and removes the confusion. Until we see Israel in the light of New Testament revelation, we will not understand God’s overall plan. Christ and His Church are always in view in the Old Testament. What began as a physical ethnic nation, continues in Christ as a spiritual nation. This is what the OT promises and prophecies refer to. The physical blessings were a foreshadowing of the spiritual blessings that we have in Christ and His spiritual kingdom. Christ died for His Church — a completely new people. This leaves no room for an ethnic people or a nation of this world. Redemption is not about a kingdom of this world. We are a spiritual people who make up a spiritual kingdom.
Arminian and Calvinist dispensationalists can be brought together by a proper view of Israel in relation to Christ and what He came to accomplish — which was to save sinners and make us all one new people in Him. All distinctions are done away with in Him. Once we understand and accept what Paul and Peter revealed about Israel and the Church, then corporate election is the only reasonable and consistent position one can have. The true identity of Israel is found in Christ and His Church. Likewise, true election is found in Christ and His Church.