We have been showing the distinctiveness of each group—Israel and the church, and why they cannot be merged. In my last post we viewed the distinctive of Israel: Jewish people who are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now we will look at the distinctive of the church.
The first thing I will point out regarding the church is that it has a distinct time period—from Pentecost to the rapture. Only God knows the length of this period, but it will be the exact time needed to prepare us, His bride, for our union with Him.
Secondly, unlike Israel, the church has a mysterious character. Whereas Israel was always well known throughout the Old Testament, the church sort of popped out of nowhere. That is, it was unheard of in the Old Testament, and wasn’t really revealed until Christ came. But even then, the concept of the church was hard to grasp. And even after it began at Pentecost, most did not understand it. Here are some of the features of its mysterious character.
It is made up of Jews and gentiles. Whereas Israel is made up of only Jews, the church is made up of both Jews and gentiles. At the beginning of the church period, the church consisted of mainly believing Jews. Then later the church caught on that gentiles were welcome too. At this present time, however, very few Jews are church members; the vast majority are gentiles.
It is indwelt by Christ. A very mysterious and wonderful thing about the church is that its members (Jews and gentiles) are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and by Christ. Therefore, the Bible says that we are all one in Christ; Christ unites us into one new man; and this is our hope of glory (Rom. 8:9; Eph. 2:15; Col. 1:27).
It is the body of Christ. We are the body of Christ and He is our head. As the spiritual body of Christ, each of us is a different part of the body and each has a different function in the body (1 Cor. 12).
It is the bride of Christ. God has designed human marriage to show us how He has intended us to relate to Christ. Thus as His bride we are to submit to Him in everything; and as our husband Christ is the head of us, and he loves us—as He gave Himself for us (Eph. 5:22-32).
The church will be raptured. In 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Paul writes, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” This is the rapture, and it will take place before the Tribulation begins.
Now, as to why the church will not go through the Tribulation: the fact that the church is saved and is the body and bride of Christ ought to give you the answer. God has poured out His grace on us and has forgiven us of our sins; Christ has paid for them. The Tribulation is meant for wrath—to punish wickedness, and also to bring Israel to repentance. None of that is needed for the church. We will discuss this in more detail in later posts.
Copyright © 2014 by Stephen Nielsen