Meditorial Kingdom Debate - Replacement View 2

Menu


 

Part Four - Theological Debate of the Meditorial Kingdom
Replacement View – Part Two

 

Let us do a quick review of the previous lesson. The Scriptures speak of one Kingdom of God which is expressed in two separate aspects. The Universal aspect refers to God’s sovereign rule over all that He has created whereas the Meditorial aspect has to do with God’s rule over the earth through His creation, Adam. 

In dealing with God’s rule over His Meditorial Kingdom we must note that are two basic schools of thought as how to understand the Kingdom passages. 

THE REPLACEMENT VIEW

The outline of the Position

The main premise of this position is based on a belief that the covenant that God made with Israel concerning her land, blessings, and future Kingdom was a conditional covenant. Since Israel did not live up to her conditions, the covenant was nullified and God turned to a new people, the Church.

The Historical Development of the Position

The roots of this position can be traced as far back to the Second and Third Centuries BC. It was based in an anti-Semitic view that developed among some in the Church. Combined with the allegorical or spiritual interpretation of prophetic Scripture, this view rapidly developed in the Western Half of the Roman Empire eventually becoming what we know today as the Roman Catholic Church. Having completed our review of the last article in this series, let us move on in our study.

The Doctrinal Consequences of the Position

Whatever decisions or actions taken by man, they are always followed by consequences and this covers the realm of theology as well. With the belief that the Israel had been removed from the program of God and replaced by the Church, the Church in the West began to the reshape many of its doctrinal positions. The addition of allegorical interpretation and later the heavy influx of pagan worshippers after the conversion of Emperor Constantine, the church continued it’s drifted further and further away from its New Testament roots. This drift from the doctrines given and held by the First Century Church manifested themselves in at least two ways.

1) Adoption of an OT Worship System: Since they believe the Church is the new bride of God, the new chosen people, it was the next logical step to begin applying to the church the promises, covenants, and worship of Israel to the church. The following are some of the many examples that can be listed of the changes retro changes made by the church to conform to its OT roots.

a. The Leadership of the Church: In the OT system, the leadership of the worship of Israel was placed in the hands of the tribe of Levi and more directly the priesthood. The priesthood of Israel was made up of many levels of priests depending on their responsibilities. All towns would have their centers of worship and at least one priest. These priests were responsible for reading the Scriptures, teaching the people and interceding for the people as they sought intervention with God. One priest stood out from all the rest and he was the High Priest. It was from him that all of Israel and their priesthood would take the lead in the worship of God.

In the New Testament Church, the leadership of the Church was very different than that practiced in Old Testament Israel. First of all, the role of the priest was replaced the role of the Pastor, elder, and deacon. This made for some significant changes.

Each congregation governed itself and was not under a hierarchical leadership which culminated in a human “high priest

The leadership of the local congregation was not selected by biological heritage but rather by the call of God upon a man who fulfilled the qualifications of a godly leader (1 Tim. 3:1-13)

Since Christ now took the position of High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16), all believers were now a part of the priesthood of God (1 Pet. 2:9-10). Since all believers are priests they do not need an intercessor to go to God in prayer and as priests they have the ability to read and understanding the teaching of the Word of God.

With the belief that the church was spiritual Israel, the Church began readjusting its leadership structure to conform to the pattern found in the OT worship system. Once again there were priests over every congregation and a laity. Once again there was a hierarchy of priests leading to a human “high priest”, the Pope. Once again the believer was not able to go directly to God but must go through his Priest. Once again the believer could not interpret the Scriptures on his own but must rely on the Priest to do it for him.

b. The Path of Salvation: In the OT system of worship, until Christ could come to totally remove all men’s sin, the Saint of God was to go regularly to the temple to offer sacrifices to cover over his sins. The most important of all the sacrifices was the day of atonement. On this day, the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies to place blood on the mercy seat to cover all the sins committed by the Saints of God during the previous year. As the High Priest returned it meant that Israel was now right with God. However over the course of a new year, the Saints would sin again and so each year a day of atonement was necessary to cover each years sins.

Christ’s work on the cross changed all of that. When He offered Himself up on the cross, He did not cover over sin but instead removed all sin ever committed, past, present, and in the future. This is clearly born out in Hebrews (9:6-15).

Heb 7:27-28, “Who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.”

Heb 9:25-28, “Not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another — He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

Heb 10:12-14, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”

Therefore, the First Century Church clearly taught that when one puts their faith in Christ alone for salvation, all of their sin is removed; past, present, and future. Any sin committed by a believer after salvation would have already been covered in the work of Christ on the Cross since He died, “once for all sin” (Rom. 6:10; Heb. 7:27; 9:12; 10:10). Since there will never be any additional sin committed that is not covered under Christ’s sacrifice, there is will never be any need for additional sacrifices. Christ has paid it all one time. In fact to even suggest that Christ would have to go back to the cross to cover additional sins is to put Christ to open shame (Heb. 6:4-6)

Once again the teaching of the First Century church was eventually abandoned in order to fit the Church to the OT worship system. If you have priests you must also have sacrifices. Since a Day of Atonement sacrifice was needed every year to cover all additional sins committed since the last Day of Atonement, so the church began to regularly re-crucify Christ on the cross at every mass. It became the church’s teaching that a believer’s sin is covered after taking mass, but any sin committed after that time would need to be covered and could potentially doom him to hell. Therefore at the time of the Mass, the bread and the wine become the actual body and blood of Christ to cover all additional sin. This therefore made it crucial that “last rights” (abbreviated mass) be administered to all who were dying less they die with additional sin not covered and end up in hell. For this reason the church selected a cross with Christ hanging on it, the crucifix, to symbolizing the on going sacrifices Christ would have to make for man’s sin.

c. The Baptism of Infants: In the OT system, to be placed into the covenant of God, the male child had to be circumcised on the eighth day. If he was a Jew, but not circumcised, he was kept apart from the covenantal blessings that God had promised his Chosen People.

In the NT church, baptism was to be an outward testimony to others that the individual had put his faith in Christ. It never played a row in the salvation of anyone and was always to be practice after the conversion of a believer. This is born out in the fact that baptism is never, with one exception, associated with the gospel message throughout the NT. Likewise, this teaching is supported by the fact that only those old enough to believe were baptized in the NT Church. There are no passages found anywhere is the Scriptures that speak of infants being baptized. 

This teaching of the First Century Church was likewise abandoned in order to conform to OT practices. Since in the OT infants were circumcised to enter the covenant of God, the church needed something similar as a means to enter the New Covenant with Christ. For this reason they choose the baptism of infants as a corresponding practice. Therefore to make sure one’s children were in the covenant so if they died they would go to heaven, the church baptized them shortly after birth.

d Other Church Doctrines: Because the Church viewed itself the replacement of Israel, many other OT practices were adopted to NT worship as well. For example: the offering of incense, placing an alter at the center of the platform (for sacrifices one needs an altar), the celebration of Holy Days (Rom. 14:1-10), dietary rules involving the restriction of certain foods (1 Tim. 4:3), the execution of those of beliefs considered heretical, the forbidding of the laity to own or read a Bible, and ceremonial dress for the priests.

2) The Development of other Prophetic Views: since the Church saw itself as Israel’s replacement then it had a problem to over come. All the prophecies given concerning the First Coming of Christ were fulfilled literally without exception. Therefore, what could they do with the prophecies regarding the Second Coming of Christ that were originally given to Israel. If Israel was out of God’s program and God always keeps His Word, then these prophecies must now apply to the Church. However, to apply most of these prophecies literally to the Church resulted in many difficult if not impossible interpretations so the church chose to use an allegorical approach to prophetic passages. In other words, do not take the verses literally but rather in a spiritual and deeper sense.

It was the position of the First and Second Century Church and the Eastern Church through the Fourth Century, that Israel was still in God’s program and that all Second Coming prophecies given to Israel would be fulfilled literally. If the prophecies of the First Coming were fulfilled literally, why would one suspect that the remaining prophecies would be fulfilled any differently? This lead the Church to believe that the Church would be raptured from the world, followed by a seven year Tribulation, followed by a literal 1000 year Kingdom of Christ. In prophetic terms this is called the Dispensational, Pre-tribulation, Pre-millennial view of prophecy. Some have wrongfully argued that view is a recent invention by some Christians in the later half of the 1700’s, however, an examination of Church History clearly indicates this was the original view held by the Church.

With the replacement view’s allegorical interpretation of Second Coming prophetic passages, two views of prophetic events were developed. The first view is the Amillennial position. It teaches that the Second Coming prophecies are being fulfilled in the Church Age. The Kingdom of God promised on earth is being fulfilled in a spiritual sense in the Church itself. Thus, you will here them speak of the Church as the Kingdom of God. It goes on to teach that the world will continue to grow more troubled until suddenly Christ appears, destroys this universe, resurrects the dead, judges all men, casts the unbelievers into hell and places the Saints into a new world of eternal joy.

The second view is the Postmillennial view. It also believes the Second Coming prophecies are being fulfilled spiritually during the Church age. However, it believes the Church will eventually evangelize the world and usher in a Millennial time of great earthly blessing. At this point Christ will return, destroy this world, judge all men, cast the unbelievers into hell and place the Saints into a new world of eternal joy.

The Summary of the Position

It is clear to see that the Replacement position does not represent the first two Centuries of the Church nor does it represent the teaching of Scripture. It was fueled by a anti-Semitic prejudice toward the Jewish people and enabled by the allegorical method of interpretation. This resulted in a shift of the Church’s doctrines to reflect those taught in the OT economy. This shift took the church away from the gospel message and replaced it with a salvation of works and continual sacrifices. This error in doctrine left the church open to additional doctrinal digression when Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion and the church was inundated with pagan worshippers. By the end of the fourth Century, the church no longer was a First Century New Testament Church but had evolved into what we now know as the Roman Catholic Church. The reformation brought about reform to the Church and brought it back to the truth in crucial areas such as salvation and the priesthood of believers. However they still carried over some baggage from the Roman Church such as their view on Israel and prophetic events. In spite of all of these changes, God always kept a remnant church, though often very small, that clung to the doctrines and teachings of the NT First Century Church. It is for this reason that such groups as the Baptists, Grace Brethren, and others can not be called protestant as they do not trace their roots through the Protestant Reformation but rather through the NT remnant groups back to the original church.