This is a question that requires addressing. There is a lot of controversy about it. As with all of my studies I will tackle it FOR MY OWN EDIFICATION and put it online in case others may find it useful.
think it is a problem of definition. What do we mean by SPIRITUAL and what do
we mean by
I use 2 Corinthians and Hebrews 11:1 as my basis for defining the things that are temporal and the things that are eternal. The things that can be seen by our terrestrial eyes are TEMPORAL. The things that cannot be seen by our terrestrial eyes, but which can be seen by our FAITH, are ETERNAL.
“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians AV)
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 AV)
There is the visible, temporal heaven. We can SEE the
clouds, the sun, the stars and other bodies of the visible, temporal heaven.
Scripture tells us that this heaven was CREATED.
“ In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1 AV)
Scripture also tells us that this heaven will be DESTROYED. It has a use-by date.
“ But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter AV)
2. There is also the
invisible, eternal heaven. We can’t see this heaven with the eyes in our head. We
can only ‘see’ it with our imagination, fuelled by the WORDS of scripture –
i.e. the WORD of God.
“ And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John AV)
“ The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.” (1 Corinthians AV)
“ For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1 AV)
“ That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, …….. according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,” (Ephesians 1:17-20 AV)
“ If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2 AV)
God the Father of glory and our Lord Jesus Christ are most definitely not in our visible, temporal heaven. The invisible, eternal heaven is similar to the realms conjured up in our minds by works of fiction such as ‘Dune’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Thomas Covenant’ etc. The difference between the realms of fiction writers and the eternal, heavenly realm of scripture is that we believe the heavenly realm evoked in our minds by scripture to REALLY EXIST, whereas we know the realms of fiction writers do not exist. We ‘suspend disbelief’ for a time so that we can enjoy the Lord of the Rings trilogy of novels or movies. We banish disbelief and practice ongoing FAITH with regard to the unseen realms described in our Bible.
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:7-9 AV)
Faith will become unnecessary when we are changed and can actually see the things that were formerly invisible. We will see him as he is when we have celestial eyes.
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2 AV)
“ For this Agar is mount Sinai in
It has existed in some form or another since before the time of Abraham. Melchizedek, to whom Abraham tithed, was king of
“ And Melchizedek king of
2. There is also the
“ But ye are come unto
“ And the king and his men went to
is a visible, temporal heaven and an invisible, eternal heaven. There is a
know that there is a visible, temporal
light-heartedly boasted of his credentials in this
“ Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.” (2 Corinthians AV)
“ Though I might also have confidence in
the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the
flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth
day, of the stock of
Judaisers would do well to read on a little beyond Philippians 3:5. Our apostle
counted his impeccable credentials as an Israelite BUT DUNG that he may win
Christ. Why are so many Christians today so keen on being
“ Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,” (Philippians 3:6-8 AV)
this time I am only aware of one scripture that suggests that we grace age
saints are citizens of a heavenly
“ And as many as walk according to this
rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the
is the Israel of God? Was Paul referring only to Jews? He must have been
referring to saints because they are “of God”.
“ For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians AV)
A true Jew is not a Jew “after the flesh” but a Jew “after the Spirit”.
“ For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Romans 2:28-29 AV)
There is an ‘Israel of God’ and being circumcised or not is irrelevant in determining who is in this Israel of God. But I think Paul is speaking only of Jews in Romans 2:28-29 above. Throughout his ministry he fiercely opposed those who tried to turn the Gentile believers into Jews. Why would he exacerbate this problem by encouraging Gentile believers to think of themselves as ‘true Jews?’ Did he not blast Peter for compelling the Gentiles to live after the manner of the Jews by the example of his separation from them?
“ But when Peter was come to
seems most likely to me that when Paul spoke of the ‘Israel of God’ he was
speaking of the saved remnant (Romans 11:5) of his Hebrew people – Hebrews with
heart circumcision. Could Paul not also have spoken of the “Greece of God” or
the “Rome of God”? Is it not just confusing and confounding things to say that
The Lord Jesus informed us that the Father is the husbandman.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.” (John 15:1 AV)
According to James the husbandman is waiting patiently for the “precious fruit of the earth” -
“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” (James 5:7 AV)
The precious fruit of the earth are the sons of God; the glorified saints.
“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” (Romans AV)
here is the scripture that most theologians use to prove that we are grafted
“For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;” (Romans -17 AV)
So we have two types of olive tree branches in this analogy - wild olive tree branches and holy olive tree branches.
THE HOLY OLIVE TREE REPRESENT
Are Seth, Enoch and Noah holy branches on the holy olive tree? YES.
Seth, Enoch and Noah members of the house of
“As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:4 AV)
But Abraham is most certainly a holy branch on God’s holy olive tree.
holy olive tree in Paul’s analogy includes a majority of holy branches from the
The answer should be fairly obvious. THE HOLY OLIVE TREE REPRESENTS THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD.
household of God includes Gentiles from before the time of
We saved Gentiles are “fellowcitizens with the saints and OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD”.
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;” (Ephesians AV)
Paul had ample opportunity to tell us we were ‘OF ISRAEL’. He did not. Rather he fought against those Jews who would turn saved Gentiles into Jews (e.g. Galatians -14).
Gentiles of this current dispensation are not grafted into
are citizens of “
“ And Melchizedek king of
The ascended and glorified Lord Jesus Christ is our ETERNAL and UNIVERSAL king and priest after the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a Gentile king and priest of the most high God to the Gentiles. (There were no Jews around at that time.)
a world in which “all have been concluded in unbelief (Romans )” the world is once again a world full of Gentiles. By
being concluded in unbelief (along with the pagan Gentiles) the Jews are
effectively Gentiles in God’s sight.
“ Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?” (Romans AV)
there is no need to bless
Melchizekian type of priest is not of the earthly
Jewish Levite type of priest to a particular nation (
“ The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalms 110:4 AV)
“ For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 7:14-17 AV)
For the duration of his life on earth, Jesus Christ was an Israelite – his body and soul were the body and soul of an Israelite and he was an earthly “minister of the circumcision” (Romans 15:8). But his HEAVENLY ministry is after the order of Melchizedek – he is now the king and priest of the most high God in a universal and eternal sense. His ROLE and GLORY have changed and expanded. But he is forever humanly identified as “Jesus of Nazareth” because that is who he was for his time on earth.
There are varying degrees of glory in heaven (1 Corinthians 15:40-41) and, as a minister of the circumcision (Jesus of Nazareth) became God’s eternal king and high priest to the world, so the heavenly roles of all his saints are expanded and universal also. They will not be NARROWED DOWN or STRAITENED to a particular nationality. Jesus’ role was EXPANDED from a particular nation to the whole world.
To make the church spiritual Israel is to narrow it down, or straiten it, from its true role as the CHURCH OF GOD – the God who made the Gentiles also (Romans 3:29).
If Jesus was still “Jesus of Nazareth” after his ascension and glorification,
“ And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.” (Acts 22:8 AV)
then will I not still be “John of Hamilton, New Zealand” after my (hoped for) ascension and glorification?
Yes. I am in Christ but I am a GENTILE SOUL in Christ. My Gentile soul has not become a Jewish soul by my being in Christ. The Spirit of Christ, the longsuffering, compassion and love of Christ dwells in me, but I am a lousy carpenter and not in the least interested in fishing. My manner of living is not in my spirit but in my soul. The Spirit of Christ is conforming my spirit to his but my soul is still John of Hamilton, New Zealand. The Lord’s soul is still Jesus of Nazareth.
I am a Gentile by the manner in which I live – an aspect of my soul-nature. Others are Jews by the manner in which they live.
“ But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” (Galatians AV)
I meet Jesus of Nazareth in heaven he will still be a Jew from
Adam and Eve were Gentiles. Enoch was a Gentile. Noah was a Gentile. Melchizedek was a Gentile. Abraham started out as a Gentile. Luke was a Gentile. There is nothing wrong with being a Gentile for eternity.
started out this investigation feeling fairly sure that I would prove that we
I have both EARTHLY and HEAVENLY reasons for this conclusion.
BECOMING SPIRITUAL, i.e. BEING BORN OF THE SPIRIT, DOES NOT CHANGE YOUR NATIONALITY. YOUR NATIONALITY BELONGS TO YOUR SOUL, NOT YOUR SPIRIT.
The soul has a nationality but the spirit has no nationality. To give the spirit a nationality is to try and give it an impossible attribute. Our spirits transcend things like nationality. Love is love regardless of nationality. The love that shone through the British Beatles music was a major factor in the dismantling of the Russian Iron Curtain – a love that transcended nationalities and languages.
My Spirit is joined to the Lord’s Spirit but that does not make my soul an Israelite’s soul. I was a Kiwi soul long before my spirit was quickened.
“ And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” (1 Corinthians AV)
The Spirit has no gender or nationality. One’s character, gender and nationality, one’s manner of living, are NOT ASPECTS OF THE SPIRIT BUT ASPECTS OF THE SOUL.
soul of Jesus is the soul of an Israelite from
Jesus was the “firstborn from the dead (Colossians )” and the “firstborn among many brethren (Romans ).” As his role in heaven was GLORIFIED and EXPANDED from his earthly role, so our roles in heaven will also be EXPANDED and GLORIFIED – NOT STRAITENED BY OUR NATIONALITY OR ANY OTHER EARTHLY ATTRIBUTE.
earthly role of Jesus of Nazareth, a minister of the circumcision (
we who are IN Christ are not IN a priest of
call the Church spiritual