Fulfillment Theology views the covenant promises and prophecies relating to Israel as being fulfilled in Christ and His Church. Christ fulfilled what Israel could not. He alone has the right to be called “Israel.” He is thus, a nation of One. His Church is New Israel of the New Covenant in Him. That Israel would continue as a spiritual nation in Christ, is what’s always in view in the Old Testament (OT) Scriptures. This is what the the New Testament (NT) Scriptures reveal.
Dispensational Theology, on the other hand, teaches that God has two separate plans for two separate peoples — one for the nation of Israel and one for His Church. It makes a clear distinction between the two. It promotes the idea that God has a plan for Israel yet to be fulfilled.
Dispensationalists like to refer to Fulfillment Theology as “replacement theology.” They view it as a theology that replaces Israel. However, that’s an incorrect notion. Christ and His Church do not replace Israel, they fulfill it. Israel continues in Christ as a spiritual nation, a spiritual people. That’s the revelation of the NT. If one interprets the NT without an OT bias, that’s what we see. It’s taught by Paul, Peter, Luke, the writer of Hebrews and by Christ Himself. That Israel was a type of Christ and His Church is so obvious (in my opinion), I believe that only a positional bias would see it any other way. When reading the NT, how can anyone ever dispute that the OT Scriptures always has Jesus and His redeemed people of the New Covenant in view? It seems basic that Christ and His covenant people are concealed in the Old Testament, but revealed in the New.
The New Testament fulfills the Old. Therefore, we must allow the light of the NT Scriptures to interpret the OT Scriptures. The Bible is one book — not two. It’s about one people of God — not about two. It’s just that the OT Scriptures, in large part, speaks in types and shadows. Whereas, the NT Scriptures spells it out, revealing the mysteries of the OT. Dispensationalism removes the continuity and harmony of God’s revelation regarding His people and His plan for them.
Therefore, in truth, it’s Dispensationalism that promotes a replacement theology. For it replaces the NT teaching regarding Israel with an OT understanding. It replaces the bright light of the NT with the now dimed light of the OT (2 Cor 3:4-18). It replaces the spiritual with the earthly. Bottom line, it replaces a Christocentric theology with an Israel-centered theology.
Which has the ring of truth? A theology where the OT takes precedence over the NT regarding the people of God? Or a theology that accepts the NT explanation of the OT, which sees the people of God as one people in Christ, as one spiritual nation in Christ (1 Pet 2:4-10), where all people distinctions are done away with in Christ (Eph 2:11-16)?
If all ethnicities are removed in Christ – and they are – then an ethnic people or an ethnic nation can no longer figure prominently in God’s plan. God has never had but one people. The idea of two peoples of God is not supported by New Testament revelation. That’s an assumption that must be made based on an isolated viewpoint of the Old Testament.