The Three Classes
Jews, Gentiles, Church
In 1 Cor.1:22-23, we are told that, "the Jews require a sign, and the Greek (or Gentiles) seek after wisdom; But we (the Church) preach Christ crucified." You will find the people of Israel, almost from their very beginning, seeking after signs, miracles and wonders in order to believe. Even Gideon had to have his fleece. And God worked signs and miracles as long as He was dealing with Israel, up to the end of the Acts period. But after Acts 28:28, signs and miracles ceased, because Israel was set aside for the present age, and God’s completed Word is sufficient for men of faith today.
By the term "Jews", Israel as a nation is meant, and not the individual Jew in this present age. The Gentiles are those of all races and tongues, other than Jews, who have not been regenerated by the new birth. The church is God’s elect company in this present age, and is composed of all born-again humans.
Through the twelve sons of Jacob, God called out unto Himself a special nation of twelve tribes, to be His special testimony to the nations of the earth. Even in the days of Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, God had this special nation in mind when He said: "I will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee ....and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:2-3).
So Israel was to be God’s earthly testimony, and through them He eventually brought the Messiah and Saviour into the world. In due time, Christ will return and God will deal with nations (Matthew 25:31-46).
In dealing thus with an earthly nation, many earthly and physical ordinances and regulation had to be given, especially in the Old Testament. Even the four Gospels are linked with Jewish promises in the Old Testament. They are not church doctrine. But they are most precious to us as divinely inspired pictures of the Person, character, and work of our blessed Lord and Saviour. Like the Old Testament, they give us a most precious acquaintance-ship with our Lord, and also wisdom as to our personal walk as a child of God.
The church is a new thing which began during the Acts period, and was said to be a mystery, hidden from past generations. It is a heavenly company, composed of both Jews and Gentiles. Satan has sought to confuse the issue by causing many man-made churches to be formed, but the Lord’s own church is clearly marked out in the scriptures. In Acts 2:47 He added to the Jerusalem assembly those who were saved. That is still the way He adds members to the church which is His body. His church is destined to leave this world suddenly one of these days- quite suddenly, (1Cor. 15:51-53). Then God will go back to dealing with His earthly nation, Israel.
John the Baptist came as a minister to Israel, preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matt.3:2). This kingdom message will be resumed after the rapture of the church and God goes back to dealing with Israel (Matt. 24:14). The gospel for the present age is the gospel of the grace of God and is referred to as Paul’s gospel (Acts 20:24; Rom. 2:16; 2Tim. 2:8).
We would have no confusion about the instructions in the New Testament if we would only ask: "To which company is this particular scripture written?" Many, for instance, ask why it is that James 5:14-15 doesn’t seem to work. A dear one is sick; they call for the elders, who pray over him and anoint him with oil, but nothing happens, although this scripture promises that "the Lord shall raise him up." Their error is that James does not write directly to the church, and does not claim to. In the beginning of his epistle he says he is writing "to the twelve tribes (Israel) scattered abroad."
For church doctrine, present day truth, we must turn to Paul’s epistles. In Eph. 3:2-10 Paul says this special revelation of the church was committed unto him. In Gal. 2:9, he says that he and Barnabas were sent unto the Gentiles, while Peter, James and John were sent unto the Jews.
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING the Word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15)
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