The Doctrine of The Church, Chapter VIII, The Sacrament of Baptism (continued)

That this is true can be proved from many passages of Holy Writ. Thus, for instance, in Romans 9:6-8 we read: “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel. Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” It is evident from the context, as well as from the text itself, that the apostle is here speaking of the Jews of the old dispensation. Secondly, it is evident that the apostle makes a distinction between those that are of Israel and those that are Israel indeed. The people as such, the nation, were all of Israel; but even in the old dispensation all was not Israel. In the third place, it is also evident that according to the passage referred to, only, spiritual Israel, believers, they that were born of the promise, by the power of the promise, as Isaac was, are counted for the seed. The Jews as such were never the seed of Abraham, although the seed of Abraham for a time were confined to the nation of Israel.

The same truth is taught in Romans 4:11-16: “And he received the sign of circumcision, the seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith: For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.” Also from this passage it is very evident that not the Jews as such, but only believers are the true seed of Abraham, and that too, both in the old and in the new dispensation. Abraham is here called the father of all them that believe, both of those that are of the circumcision, the Jews, and of those that are of the uncircumcision, all nations. Hence, they that believe are the seed of Abraham, whether they are of the Jews or of the Gentiles. Moreover; the text emphasizes that only in that sense is he the father of circumcision. Not all of the circumcision are the true seed of Abraham, but only those among them that believe. For he is the father of circumcision, that is, “to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.” Thirdly, to this one spiritual seed there is one and the same promise, the promise, namely, that they should be heirs of the world. They which are merely of the law and of the flesh are not heirs of the promise at all, but only they which are of the faith of our father Abraham, who is the father of us all. One father Abraham, one seed of Abraham, one promise to Abraham’s seed, one way to obtain the promise, the way of the righteousness which is by faith,—this is the clear teaching of this passage of Holy Writ. 

The same truth is taught us in Romans 2:26, 29: “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.” Here too we are very plainly taught that the mere Jew was never the seed of Abraham. Only he was a true Israelite in whose heart was present the spiritual reality corresponding to the sign of circumcision,—faith. Believers only, therefore, are the true seed of Abraham. 

And that the people of God both in the old and new dispensations are one people is very plainly taught inGalatians 3:7-9, 16-29, and Galatians 4:1-7. In Galatians 3:7-9 we read: “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scriptures, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, “In thee shall all nations be blessed.” So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” In the same chapter, Galatians 3:16-29, we read: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should after wards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” And in 4:1-7 we read: “Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world; But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” 

The real seed of Abraham, therefore, according to the texts we quoted above, are the believers, or the elect. This is true not only of the new dispensation but also of the old. Centrally the seed of Abraham is Christ. The apostle even draws an argument from the fact that the singular, seed, is used instead of the plural, seeds. Centrally, therefore, Christ is, as we have said before, the only seed of Abraham. Secondly, however, if Christ is the seed of Abraham in the central sense of the word, it stands to reason that they only can be seed with Christ that are in Him, whether they be of the old or of the new dispensation. Gal. 3:7. Thirdly, the entire passage emphasizes that there is only one promise for the one seed of Abraham, and that therefore believers are the only heirs of the promise. Gal. 3:29. Fourthly, note that the apostle compares the church of all ages, of the old and of the new dispensation, to a growing child. In the old dispensation it is the heir that is still a child and is therefore under the tutorship of the law. But now, in the new dispensation, it is grown up into an adult; it is a son who has received the inheritance. The point is here that the church of the old and new dispensation are likened unto one person when a child grows into an adult, it does not become an altogether different person, but is the same individual. It is therefore the clear teaching of the Word of God that there is only one people of God; and that this people of God is called the seed of Abraham in Christ, and that therefore the seed of Abraham is not the Jews as such, neither the Gentiles as such, but the believers with faithful Abraham, of the Jews and of the Gentiles both. 

The same truth will be evident to us by a comparison ofHosea 1:10, 11 with Romans 9:24-26. In the passage from Hosea 1we 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.” This passage speaks evidently of the ten tribes of Israel, and is a prophecy of a great and glorious restoration in which Israel shall be changed from being called Loruhamah into the state of being called the sons of the living God. Such is the meaning of Hosea 1:10, 11. But in the passage from Romans 9 the apostle does not hesitate at all to interpret the passage of Hosea in such a way that it applies to then church of the new dispensation. The text reads as follows: “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.” We readily understand, of course, that such an application of the text in Hosea could never be made except on the thoroughly Scriptural basis of the unity of the church of the old and new dispensations. We may also compare Jeremiah 31:31-34 with Hebrews 8:6-13. The passage from 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 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.” And the passage from Hebrews 8:6-13 reads as follows: “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, be 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.