We ended the previous blog post with the question, “Why have the majority of believers been caught up in the error of replacement theology?”
Thankfully, Paul reveals the causes of this error and they are not surprising: arrogance and ignorance.
In Romans 11:18, Paul exhorts his readers, “do not be arrogant toward the branches…” The “branches” Paul refers to here are the Jewish people, Israel. They are what Paul calls “the natural branches” because it is natural for Israel (i.e., the Jewish people) to believe in the Messiah of Israel, Jesus (Romans 11:21).
This arrogance occurs when Gentile believers (whom Paul calls “wild olive branches”) think they are better than Israel (natural branches). Paul warns against this arrogance by reminding readers that we did not earn salvation. We received it by faith.
And he reminds Gentiles that the blessings in which they are permitted to partake were originally given to Israel. Notice, Gentiles are partakers and not overtakers.
Replacement theology, while connected to one’s hermeneutic, can also be attributed to ignorance – the other cause Paul warns his readers against.
Paul does not want his Gentile readers to be ignorant of God’s present and future plans for Israel and the Jewish people. He says this clearly in the same chapter: “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved…” (Romans 11:25-26a).
Why doesn’t Paul want Gentile believers to be ignorant or “unaware” of his teachings about Israel?
Because anytime we are ignorant about God’s Word we are susceptible to false teaching, which ultimately replacement theology is. Paul understands replacement theology fails to produce a desire to see the salvation of the Jewish people. The long record of apathy and outright anti-Semitism stemming from replacement theology is documented by Pastor Barry Horner in his work titled “Future Israel.”
Paul taught that the Gospel is “to the Jew first” (Romans 1:16) and wished himself “accursed and cut off from Christ” if only the Jewish people could know the Messiah (Romans 9:1-5). His desire is for Gospel proclamation among the Jewish people, not apathy.
Replacement theology exists despite the clear teaching of Scripture. As a church continually called to be sanctified, we need to purge ourselves once and for all of this wrong teaching. We must do this for the sake of God’s Word and the proclamation of the Gospel among the House of Israel.
As a youth, I eventually awakened to my own ignorance and arrogance. I stopped arguing with my parents.
As a church, we would do well to remove this error from our teachings. We will be blessed if we accept and believe God’s clear teaching that Israel has not been rejected, and never will be (Jeremiah 31:31-37; Romans 11:29).
Replacement theology cannot be deduced from the Scriptures alone. It requires a presupposition in the mind of the reader – before he or she even approaches the text – that God has displaced/replaced Israel.
In conclusion, if God has displaced or replaced Israel, what hope does the Church have that He won’t do the same with us?
What hope do you personally have that He won’t break His promises to you if you fall short?
Thankfully, the Bible teaches us that God is faithful in all He does. Even “if we are faithless, He remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13).
This principle is also true of His chosen people, Israel. “God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew” (Romans 11:2).