Now, surely, the child that has grown up into an adult is still the same person. It is, therefore, the clear and undeniable teaching of the Word of God that there is only one people of God, the seed of Abraham in Christ, and that this seed is not the Jews, but the believers in Christ, both of the old and of the new dispensation. The unity of the church of all ages is incontrovertibly established.
I know the objections of the millennialists, or dispensationalists. They aver that you find many passages in the Old Testament that very clearly apply only to the nation of Israel, that speak of a restoration of that nation, that promise them specifically the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession. These passages, according to them, may not be spiritualized so that they refer to the church of the new dispensation.
This objection, however, surely is not valid. This will be evident if you compare certain passages of the Old Testament with applications of these same passages in the New Testament. Compare, for instance, Hosea 1:10, 11 with Romans 9:24-26. In the former passage we read; “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” It is evident from this passage, if taken by itself, that the prophet speaks only of the people of Israel, and not of any other people. In fact, he speaks particularly of the ten tribes. It is to them that the Lord had said, “Loammi, ye are not my people,” and again, “Lo-ruhamah, ye are not the objects of my mercy.” This was said unto them because of their apostasy and their iniquity. However, these ten tribes, according to the presentation of the Old Testament, will be restored to the favor of God, and will be called the sons of the living God. Thus it is in the prophecy of Hosea. Now let us compare this passage in Hosea with Romans 9:24-26. It is evident from the text in Romans 9 that the apostle refers to the prophecy of Hosea. Yet in this chapter of the Romans the apostle refers to this passage in Hosea and quotes it in application to the church in the new dispensation. In the passage from Romans we read: “Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.” It is very evident that in this section the apostle speaks of the church of the new dispensation, the church as it is gathered and called from Jews and Gentiles both. The significance of this ought to be very plain to all that read and interpret the Scriptures. Here is a passage from the prophecy of Hosea that evidently refers to the ten tribes of Israel. Yet it is directly and literally applied to the church of the new dispensation. Hence, Jehovah’s promise to Israel that He would restore them to favor and that the seed of the children of Israel would be as the sand of the sea is fulfilled when God calls His church out of all nations in the new dispensation. Passages like these can be multiplied. Compare, for instance, Jeremiah 31:31-34 withHebrews 8:8-12. The passage in Jeremiah reads as follows: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Also this passage evidently must be applied to Israel of the old dispensation. But now turn to the text in Hebrews. There we read: “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I. regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” The entire context shows that the author of the epistle to the Hebrews refers not to the Jews but to the church of the new dispensation. One more passage of the Old Testament I wish to compare with another passage of the New Testament. In Amos 9:11 we read: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.” Also this passage evidently refers to the children of Israel of the old dispensation, as well as to the tabernacle that was among them. However, the passage in Acts 15:13-17 reads: “And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again. the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.”
The church, according to the Scriptures, therefore, is not two, but one. The church is not a mere interim, gathered only in the new dispensation, but one flock under one shepherd, the one and only body of Christ, called out of the world in every age, from the beginning of the world even unto the end. There are no two different kinds of Abraham’s seed: a literal, the Jews, and a spiritual, the church. But only the children of the promise of the old and new dispensations are counted for the seed. And these children of the promise are found in the generations of Seth, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, and Israel until the promise is fulfilled in the great seed of the woman, the one seed of Abraham, our Lord Jesus Christ, after which this same seed of the promise is gathered from the generations of all nations. The line certainly runs through. The unity of the old and the new testaments cannot be broken. The church may not be separated from Israel. There is one God and Father of all and in all, one Lord Jesus Christ rich over all that call upon Him, one Spirit of that one Lord dwelling in all, one body of Christ, one kingdom of God, one people of God gathered throughout the ages, the holy catholic church.
Besides, let us also note that according to Scripture there is one promise for that one people. In many passages of Scripture we read of that one promise. In fact, the gospel is the glad tidings concerning the promise; and the whole of Scripture is the glad tidings concerning that promise. The Bible principally and centrally is the revelation of the promise of God and of its realization. This promise is already announced in the third chapter of the book of Genesis, immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve. In fact, it is announced to the devil: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise its heel.” I say: this is the one promise that is repeated frequently in Scripture. And the rich implications of its contents and meaning are set forth and unfolded to the patriarchs and prophets, to Israel and Judah and David. It is visibly proclaimed in the shadows and types of the old dispensation, in temple and altar and sacrifice, in prophet and priest and king, in the land of Canaan and Jerusalem and Mt. Zion. It is fulfilled in Christ, in His death and resurrection and exaltation at the right hand of God, and in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It is the promise of salvation, of the forgiveness of sins, of everlasting righteousness and eternal life, of the adoption unto children of God and perfect justification, of the resurrection of the dead, of heavenly glory, of the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession, of the inheritance of the whole world, of the eternal kingdom of Christ and the tabernacle of God with men, of the heavenly perfection of Jerusalem and Mt. Zion, on tine which our Lord Jesus Christ shall reign forevermore.
This promise is certainly one and indivisible. It is the promise for the one seed of Abraham, for all the children of the promise, both of the old and of the new dispensation. The promise is to the one people of God, that is, to the holy catholic church. Often the Scriptures simply speak of the promise, in the singular, to denote its unity, while the plural,promises, is also employed to express the manifold riches of the one salvation God prepares for them that love Him. However, always the promise is the same for all, that is, for all the elect, for all the children of God. There are no two sets of promises, one for Israel, the other for the church, the former earthly and the latter heavenly in character. There is one promise for all. The saints of the old dispensation lived by the faith in the same promise as do the saints in the new dispensation. They saw the promise afar off: for it was the time of the shadows. And it is not yet fully realized; but we look forward to the final realization of the promise, expecting one and the same revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ at the day of His coming.