Q. I have a question regarding the so called “distinction” between Israel and the church. I understand that all dispensational scholars say that ethnic Israel has specific promises given to them (such as land etc) that apply ONLY to them. However, as I read Galatians 3:26-29 this does not seem to be the case:
You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ…If you belong to christ, then YOU ARE ABRAHAM’S SEED, and heirs according to the promise.
Doesn’t this say that there’s no difference between Israel and the Church?
A. The whole point of Paul’s letter to the Galatians was to argue against the view that Gentiles had to become Jews before they could become Christians. Jews were following Paul around preaching that gentiles had to be circumcised, adopt kosher diets and obey the Jewish law before that could convert to Christianity. They accused Paul of making up a new religion.
If you read all of chapter 3 instead of just verses 26-29 you’ll see this clearly. When Paul said that we’re all heirs according to the promise he was talking about justification by faith, not God’s promises to Israel Galatians 3:6-9 spell it out for us.
Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
This has nothing to do with the Church inheriting the promises to Israel otherwise Paul would be in direct contradiction to many other clear promises in the Bible. His point was that this promise preceded the Law, since Abraham came before Moses, so keeping the Jewish law had nothing to do with our justification. Our righteousness comes to us by faith, not by keeping the Law.