Refuting the “Replacement Theology” Heresy
By David Ben Yakov
Copyright 2007 – David Ben Ya’akov
Recently, I received an e-mail from someone who found some of the words that I’ve written on the Internet a bit distasteful. One of the things that he’s contending is that the Jewish people are no longer God’s Chosen People. This gentleman contends that since the Jews rejected their Messiah some two thousand years ago, they are now forsaken by God and that the Church has taken their place as God’s chosen people. Through several e-mails I pressed him for information on where he got his theory. When his third e-mail came he announced that he was a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, and that his belief is Church doctrine, as handed down by the Apostles Peter and Andrew. Having always known that the Jewish people are still God’s chosen people, I decided to do some research to find where the Bible refutes this gentleman’s theory. Below is what I’ve found.
But before we go into if the Jewish people are rejected or have lost their prominence, let’s look at the church. What exactly is the Church, and in what ways do it and the Jewish nation differ. When looking at anything, it’s always best to ask the six basic questions; who, what, when, where, why and how? If these things can be answered, you have a true explanation of whatever you are researching. So, without any delay, let’s look at those basic questions where the Church is concerned:
Who and What is the Church:
Many will argue that the Church is some ecclesiastical body. They will say that it is some sort of church government, modeled after some earthly sort of system. The Bible states that it is very different; a sort of a theocracy. I think that the best way to describe it is a group of people (two or more) who are gathered together in Jesus’ name. That doesn’t mean just anyone who gathers together in His Name, but those who are truly His, born of His Spirit and by His grace. There are many around the world who claim to be Christian in their belief system, but a mere shallow belief alone is not what makes a Christian. For instance, I know that every time I turn on the switch of the lamp, electricity makes the lamp glow, but that doesn’t make me an electrician. I know how to do some simple work on my automobile, but that doesn’t make me a mechanic. I can know the Bible and even memorize every verse and even claim that Jesus is God’s Son and even God, but that doesn’t make me a true believer. Even Satan believes that Jesus is the Son of God and that He’s God, and that certainly doesn’t make him a Christian.
No, a true Christian is one who believes that he or she is a sinner and has no hope without the intervention of God Himself. They know that Jesus was the Sacrifice Lamb that God offered to save mankind, and they accept that Sacrifice wholeheartedly. They’ve recognized that they can only have a chance if they welcome Jesus to come and live in their heart, and allow Him to change them into His likeness, to do His will and purpose. And to the true Christian, God is the purpose for living every day, and for doing every action. And no, we’re not perfect, but are willing to allow God to work in us toward perfection, knowing that when we are in His presence, we will be perfect, like He is.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:3-6
The true Church is made up of such persons. The word Church doesn’t denote any one denomination, sect or group, but the corporate body of those as mentioned above. They aren’t Catholics or any mainline Protestants. They aren’t Pentecostals or Charismatics or any other man made name. They’re just Christians.
The Church doesn’t denote a building or meeting place either, although they are called churches. The last building that God’s presence resided in was the Temple in Jerusalem, and that hasn’t existed for many centuries. Frankly, I find it an insult to think that people would assign God to vessels made of wood, hay or stubble. No, He’s more at home in the human heart, in the very essence of our being, and He can’t live there unless we’ve been sanctified by becoming a new creature through a rebirth in the Spirit of Jesus.
When and How was the Church founded:
The Church’s founding in many ways resembles a person’s life. As mentioned above, there has to be two births for a human to be complete. The first birth is the physical birth where we issue forth from our mothers. The second birth is a Spiritual birth, issued forth from the Holy Spirit of God. Where the first birth is concerned, we have no say in the matter, but we have to seek and ask for the second birth. The Bible also mentions that there are two deaths. The first is the natural death that everyone experiences. The second death is a spiritual death, doled out to those who didn’t accept the rebirth while alive here on Earth. Some choose to believe that the “born again,” speaks of reincarnation, but that is refuted in the following scripture:
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. Hebrews 9:27
In two births Church came into being. All agree that the physical birth was after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At that time, it was an entity, made up of those who chose to believe in Jesus as their Messiah. They believed in His miracles, His ministry, His life, His death (for atonement) and His resurrection. But it was not until the day of Pentecost; when the Church received the Holy Spirit as both a comforter and an empowerer, did it really move forth as a completed entity. The Church is not an organization, it’s an organism, living, breathing, growing and overcoming.
In the first birth of the Church, they were all together, but without knowing a real purpose. They knew that they believed in Jesus, and because of that belief, they were united, but united for what purpose? Then, when they were together and all in one accord, the Holy Spirit came and dwelt on them and in them. They then knew that they had a purpose and they knew how to accomplish that purpose. The Spirit gave them wisdom, power and direction. So, in answer to the question; the Church was founded after the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha Mashiach) and it was born again on the day of Pentecost.
Where was the Church established?
The Church’s official birthplace is Jerusalem of course. That’s where Jesus’ crucifixion was; it is where His resurrection was and it is where the recorded imparting of the Holy Spirit occurred. From there it spread throughout southwest Asia, North Africa and Europe, and from those places it spread to the rest of the world.
Why was the Church formed?
The Church was formed by Jesus Christ to be a people sanctified for His holy purpose. His purpose was that the whole world might be saved; saved, meaning freed from sin and its bondage, and free, meaning brought into his Holy Kingdom to be His holy people.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17
You see, the saved part is already done. Every person who has ever lived since the inception of the Church has had the chance to be saved. The gift has been there, but every gift has two parties, the giver and the receiver. The purpose of the Church is to spread the Good News of God’s salvation through Jesus, and to exemplify what living a holy and sanctified life really is.
The Church’s History:
If one studies earnestly, it is easy for them to see how the Church parallels the ministry and failures of the Jewish nation prior to and after the Ministry of Jesus. Israel was delivered from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. Those in the Church have been delivered from the bondage of the law of sin and death. Israel prospered in the land when they first arrived and were governed by a group of men called judges, who were in turn governed by God. The early Church had the Apostles, then the early Church fathers who were governed by God, and the Church too prospered and grew in its first two hundred years.
Israel then demanded that they have a king set over them, and they got Saul, who did evil in the eyes of the Lord. The Church set up an ecclesiastic order to rule over things, often referred to by Jesus as the Nicolaitans, whose practices He says He hates. Israel came together under David, and while there is no comparison, the ecclesia brought the Churches together under the Catholic Church. David’s son Solomon corrupted Israel and the Catholic Church corrupted Christianity. Israel split into two factions; Israel and Judah, one being less of an evil than the other. The Church split into two factions, Rome and Constantinople. Israel and Judah were constantly under attack and oppression by the Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians and others. The Roman church was always oppressed by the barbarians to the north and the Muslims to the south. The Eastern Church was oppressed and attacked by the Moslems to the east and south. The list could go on and on.
There are similarities in other ways too. Both had remnants of people who were not corrupted by the system. Israel and Judah had God’s prophets which God used to attempt reform and bring about righteousness and many were killed. The same with the Christian world. Both had reformers that succeeded, if only for a while. Israel had people like Nehemiah and King Hezekiah. The Christians had people like John Wesley and Martin Luther. Look at the similarities and try to tell me that there’s been no battle between good and evil all throughout history.
The Bible always speaks of a remnant of believers who do not corrupt themselves with the ways of the world, or the system that they live in. The trouble is that most people who start out believing but thereafter they cling to the organization that is called the Church instead of becoming the body organism that the true Church is intended to be. It’s much easier to sit in a pew and agree with everything that comes out of a leader’s mouth then it is to investigate those words and compare them with what God says in His word. That has basically been the history of the majority of the Church.
Many were silent during the Inquisition, when Jews and other non-Christians were persecuted and then expunged from Spain and other European nations. Very few spoke out in Russia during their many pogroms which persecuted God’s chosen people, the Jews. But we have to give credit to the remnant of believers who spoke up. We have to give credit to those who hid and cared for Jews during those Inquisitions, those pogroms and in Hitler’s Europe before and during World War Two.
We too have to look at the accomplishments of true believers. There were the martyrs of old and those today who give their bodies up the flame and all sorts of trials and forms of death that a cruel and evil world can produce. There are those who have forsaken their comfort to bring the Gospel to every nation around the world. Because of them, millions have come to faith in Jesus and have inherited the Kingdom of Heaven. There are the unsung heroes too, who clothe the naked, feed the hungry and care for the fatherless and widows. The kind and holy gestures of Christians far outweigh the evil that has been done in Jesus’ name and without His consent. It’s just a shame that the world chooses to remember the few bad things rather than the many good deeds and works.
So, has the Church replaced Israel as the Chosen?
The answer to that is a simple, ‘NO!” It’s really quite simple if one just sits down, reads their Bible and uses the brain that God has endowed most of us with. It’s really a no brainer. Chosen people are people that are picked by a chooser. Let’s look at the scripture above again and pull it apart:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17
We saw earlier how Jesus died for the whole world, and that people have to choose whether to believe and accept Jesus’ sacrifice and His living in their beings. The whole theme here is choice. We have to choose Him. There is a covenant here, and every covenant has to have two willing partners. God is the giver, and we choose to receive or not to receive. There-fore, we are the choosers, not the Chosen.
Where the Jewish people are concerned, the covenant is different. God spoke to Abraham and told Him to leave His land and to go wherever God sent Him. When Abraham obeyed that command, and others that were placed upon him, God chose him because God saw him to be a righteous man. There are many times in the Tanakh (Old Covenant) where God would announce that He would hold back judgment and restore blessings because of His covenant with Abraham. The covenant with Abraham was a covenant with the physical seed of Abraham. God also swore covenants with Isaac and Jacob, further strengthening His resolve to keep His part of the Holy agreement with Abraham’s seed.
The Jewish nation went through many times of rebellion and restoration, and each time, God refreshed the covenant that He had with His people Israel. The books of the prophets are overflowing with prophecies of God’s restoration of the Jewish people. Take for example the following scripture, which foretells of the rebirth of the Nation of Israel, which happened in 1948:
Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? [or] shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. Isaiah 66:8
And if just one isn’t enough to convince you, here’s a couple others:
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. Isaiah 11:11
For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. Jeremiah 30:3
These prophecies have been fulfilled in our own life times. They should be proof enough that God has not forsaken His people.
God, when He made His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob gave His word that He would keep His promise to keep Israel as His Chosen People. He drew up the contract, swore to it before the three patriarchs, and gave the land as collateral to assure His People and the rest of the world that He was a God of kept promises. True, He has had to take away some of the privileges of His contract because of bad conduct of the other signatory, but the contract has never been voided and all privileges will someday be restored. But God said one more thing to insure that His people Israel would always be His. He swore that He would destroy all of creation before He would forget and forsake Israel:
Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD. Jeremiah 31:35-37
Gleanings from the Brit Hadasha (New Covenant):
To many it may appear that this “Church is Israel” heresy is a modern day belief. It’s been brought to modern light by the likes of Herbert W. Armstrong and other racial heretics who would deny the true Israel his prominence in God’s eyes. But, a search of the scriptures shows that Satan had been playing his nasty little games even during the forming of the Church. If you read the book that Paul wrote to the Romans you will see that Paul had to correct some of the early believers who tried to promote this heresy. Below you will find Romans Chapter 11. Read it through several times because it holds a lot of truth. I’ve used the New International Version, because it makes it a little easier to understand.
The Remnant of Israel
1I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah–how he appealed to God against Israel: 3″Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
7What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, 8as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” 9And David says: “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. 10May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.”
11Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring! 13I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
All Israel Will Be Saved
25I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. 27And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” 28As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
33Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34″Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” 35″Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?”
36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Further complications of the Church = Israel Theory:
When Israel came out of bondage and spent time in the wilderness, they were given a list of laws that they had to obey. We know the beginning of that list as the 10 Commandments. But little does anyone know, that there are roughly 613 laws in the Law of Moses. Some of these laws, such as keeping the festivals, and feasts were given to Israel and they were commanded to keep these feasts forever as a remembrance of God’s mighty salvation and victory over the Gods of Egypt. The Jewish people to this day keep those feasts and festivals. If the Church is the new Israel, then it is in violation of God’s edict. But, Jesus came and freed us from the law, right? So, the Church can’t be the new Israel.
There are many scriptures both in the old and new Covenants of how God will physically come to Earth and deliver Israel from its physical enemies. That hasn’t happened yet, and if the Church is the new Israel, it should have happened.
The Prophets say in many places that Israel will be redeemed physically, as a nation. The New Testament says that Christians are already redeemed, individually, joined together to be a living Holy organism. So, if the Church is the New Israel, does that mean that Jesus has to redeem us twice? It seems to me that that’s calling the first redemption impotent.
It makes God out to be a liar, and a person who doesn’t make good on His promises.
It insults the character of Jesus, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever,” because it implies that God is changeable, depending on His moods.
It is the root of Anti-Semitism, because it devalues the Jewish person. It breeds the “Christ Killer,” mood that prevails in every Inquisition, pogrom and holocaust against the Jewish People. Since the death of Jesus, it’s been Satan’s favorite tool to start persecution of the Jews in the Christian world.
Persecution and the Jewish People:
One of the favorite excuses that gentiles use when persecuting the Jewish people is that they are “Christ Killers.” These same people say that the reason why the Jewish people through history have gone through persecution is because of this contention. This contention is as stupid as the people who perpetrate it.
First, the Jewish people have gone through several persecutions, and many of those were before the time of Christ. There was the slavery of Egypt; the wicked plan of extermination by Haman, the constant harassments of foreign nations like Assyria, and the Philistines. The exile of Israel to Assyria and the later exile of Israel and Judah to Babylon. Then there was the subjugation under the Greeks and later the Romans. All of these things occurred before the birth of Christ Jesus.
One thing that always seems to escape the eyes of bigots and potential persecutors is that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, many true believers in Christ have been persecuted along with the Jews. The Romans loved to kill Christians in the arena. When the ecclesiastic church was formed it persecuted the true believers who wouldn’t conform to its worldly and sometimes pagan form of religion. No one mentions all of the millions of the Protestants who were killed by the Roman Catholic Church down through the ages.
So we have to agree that although there have been many persecutions of the Jewish people, many true believers in Christ have suffered too. Now let me say something that might at first make me sound like a hypocrite, but after I explain everything you will see something interesting. The main focus of all of these persecutions, has been Christ Jesus. Not that He personally has orchestrated it, but they’ve been done because of Him by people who pervert His ministry and purpose.
Without going into a whole other paper about this, let’s look at some things. If you’re a Spirit filled Christian you’ll see it, but if you’re not, I ask you to consider these things because it takes Spiritual eyes to see it. The purpose of all of the persecutions of the Jewish people before the birth of Christ was to try to eliminate the royal and priestly line that would lead up to Jesus’ birth. When Satan had failed to accomplish this, He tried to kill Jesus himself, and probably thought he succeeded when Jesus was crucified. But then the resurrection happened and Satan failed again.
So now we live in an Age of Grace, where Jesus is a victor and all have a chance to flee from Satan’s evil camp to the righteous and holy camp of God. Now Satan is really mad. Not only did he goof in not eliminating the royal line, but he himself had something to do with establishing his adversary’s kingdom. So, who’s he mad at? He hates the Jews and he hates the Christians. And who is he going to persecute? He’s going to go after the ones who produced the Messiah, and also the ones who’ve been born again through Messiah’s Spirit.
But Satan especially likes persecuting the Jews; and why is that? Well, we have the reason above and that’s understandable. But, Satan can see some parts of the future, especially the parts that God has laid out in the Bible. Yes, Satan does read the Bible. How else is he so able to enable his human disciples to twist God’s word so, unless he knows it? Anyway, back to our saga. As we come to the close of human government here on earth, there will be one major focus, as illustrated in the prophetic books. That focus is the restoration and revival of the Jewish nation. Satan knows that Jesus will be coming soon, and he’s (Satan is) going out of his way to try to destroy God’s plan for Israel’s coming salvation. That is the reason why Israel has been persecuted so.
God hasn’t been sending judgment on the Jews for Jesus’ death? He would be a hypocrite for doing that. Jesus plainly said that:
Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. John 10:17-18
And In Isaiah it was foretold:
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53: 10-12
Jesus clearly explains in the scripture from John, written above, that He claims responsibility for His own death. God had given Him the power to lay down His life and also to raise it again. And notice that it says that God commanded Him to go to the cross. This was foretold in Isaiah (notice the scripture above) in such a beautiful fashion. It pleased God when Jesus was bruised, whipped, tortured and crucified, because those things gave God a provision to save anyone who would believe in what He did. It goes on to say that Jesus saw His seed, (meaning those who would become His, through His sacrifice) and I believe that is what made it easier for Him to endure all he endured. Then it says that God was satisfied by what happened. This means that it satisfied the need for cleansing us from sin. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, the Lamb of God. He fulfilled God’s requirement. The blood of bulls and the other sacrifices that man offered during the time of the Tabernacle and later the Temple weren’t enough. Only God could supply the sacrifice that would satisfy God.
So the next time that you think of the Jews being “Christ Killers,” or if you hear someone else say it, just remember, Jesus is a part of the Godhead, and allowed the destruction of His human incarnation so that you won’t have to be destroyed. And be thankful that a few Jewish leaders a couple of thousand years ago, who, through their ignorance, led the ultimate sacrifice to His slaughter, because if they hadn’t done it, no Gentile would have had the chance to be born again, and there would be no resurrection.
So what about Jews who currently believe in Jesus:
Yes, there are Jews who have accepted Jesus (Yeshua) as their Messiah. But that’s not really an alien idea, because the first believers were Jewish. The misnomer is that Jews who have accepted Jesus have converted. The true sense of their action should be labeled more as a “completion.” They are completed Jews, just as the apostles were. Only Gentiles can be converted because “converted,” means to make something from something else. Jewish Christians are completed because they were already on the road and have now completed the journey. They prefer mostly to be called Messianic Jews. Where the term Christian means “Christ-like,” the term Messianic means ‘Messiah-like.” Messiah and Christ are interchangeable terms that mean the same thing, both meaning, “anointed,” or having a special purpose for God; anointed (covered) by God’s Spirit. If you read the “olive tree,” analogy in the Romans chapter above you will understand all about the grafting and regrafting and such.
So, if you’ve read this article with in search of truth I hope you have found it. The Church is a separate entity, independent of Israel. The Church has not replaced Israel, nor will it ever do that. The Jewish people are still God’s chosen people, as backed up by scripture and the fulfillment of prophecy. If you have read this article and are still not satisfied just remember one thing. Someday all will have to give account to Jesus for the things they’ve done, and yes, that includes you. When you stand before Him, He will be announced as the Lion of The Tribe of Judah, and He’s as Jewish as they come. The ball’s now in your court.
In His Service
David Ben Yakov
Copyright 2007 – David Ben Ya’akov