FOTS #2 – ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH’S ROLE WITHIN DIVINE PROVIDENCE

church

That is what my book has endeavoured to unravel. However, understanding the “fellowship of the secret” passage from Ephesians 3 alluded to in its title pertains to the final piece of the jigsaw, it is not the logical starting point for such a study of the “dark matter” of Scripture, by which I am referring to that which is poorly illuminated, not that which is sinister – quite the contrary, it is wonderful news. But there are aspects concerning broader providence that have eluded Christian theologians ever since a comprehensive biblical framework was first established, especially through the efforts and often polemically derived assertions of Augustine (Hippo), and he more than any other individual has impacted upon the subsequent course of theological thought in the West. Consequently, the Roman Catholic Church as well as those who defected from her at the Reformation have understood for much of their history that the Church and faithful Israelites before her are the exclusive grouping that God intended to reconcile to Himself, and only they were to be delivered from perdition. l show in my book that whilst Israel and the Church were indeed to be set apart from the world, that was in order that God, as it were working from within, would enlighten and bring healing to His world through His chosen people, not exclusively for them, and so reconcile all true humanity to Himself.  Like Israel before her, the Church was to be His royal priesthood, but the latter would consist of individuals drawn from every nation elected on the basis of free grace into an exclusive covenant sealed with Christ’s blood. By participating in the sacred mystery (Christ in me, the hope of glory) such could be purged from sin even whilst their souls inhabited “the body of this death”, as Paul aptly described the temporary intellectual vessel inherited from our fallen first parents. The Church would serve as Christ’s mystical Body on earth in the present and its faithful adherents were destined to share in their Master’s eternal reign as His corporate Spouse. The “fellowship of the secret” being my shorthand for what Paul refers to as the fellowship/dispensation pertaining to the secret hidden in God (the Father) through the ages” was that the nation of Israel that had been foretold in earlier prophecy to fulfil such a priestly and kingly destiny was to be supplanted (or in effect augmented) by an international assembly we know of as the Church (cf. Rom11:25). Such was Paul’s gospel (to euaggelion mou Rom16:25) which even fellow apostle Peter had scarcely grasped for it had clearly not been explained to him or any other disciples who had accompanied Jesus during His earthly ministry that the Gentile nations were not only to be enlightened by the Good News of the risen and glorified Jesus but receive an “identical spiritual gift” to that of believing Jews (Acts11:17,18)  so as to share in the “inheritance of the sanctified” (Acts26:18), a fact which in itself has implications to overall providence.

That is the overall picture. I intend in subsequent posts, complementing the methodology employed in my book in which I started with Paul’s revelation regarding the role of the Gentiles and considered its past and future implications, here to go more concisely and sequentially through the Old and New Testament, identifying the various interpretative “glosses” that have led to the mystery of God’s munificent providence being sustained for so long*. This will appear subversive to conservative Christians, at least until it is recognised that such has been God’s intended journey for the Church, i.e. that the mystery I am alluding to and its final resolution is itself cryptically inferred in certain scriptural prophecy; also that an incomplete understanding of such matters has not prevented the apostolic churches in East and West from fulfilling their gospel mission throughout their history.

 

*Alternatively just read the e-book, its free to download from Smashwords!    HERE