The Axe is Laid Unto the Root
When studying the Bible, one learns that under the Law of Moses there was one select group that was considered “God’s people”. That group is known as the Israelites/Jews. By being of the physical seed line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, some had come to behave as if they were spiritually untouchable. That mistake is still believed by some today. There are people who believe that every Israelite/Jew will obtain spiritual salvation simply because of their physical ancestry. We must be careful not to believe this false doctrine.
First of all, Paul explicitly wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17). Since the inception of the Gospel, there is only one “power of God unto salvation”. That applies for both Jew and Gentile. Today, if man wants to be saved, then he must obey the Gospel. This truth is further seen by reading more of what Paul wrote: “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thess. 1:7-9). That likewise applies to both Jew and Gentile.
So how is it that with verses that simple and plain people still believe and advocate otherwise? Part of the problem is the misuse and lack of understanding of one particular verse of Scripture. That verse is Romans 11:26. The verse states, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob”. Unfortunately, this verse is often removed from its immediate context. If one carefully examines the verses before and after Romans 11:26, then one will notice that Paul had given a great lesson on how the Gentiles could now obtain salvation. As he put it, the obedient Gentiles were “graffed” into the natural “tree”. When the Gentiles obeyed the Gospel, it did not matter that they were not of the physical ancestry of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The obedient Gentiles were now a part of “God’s people”. Likewise, the Israelites/Jews who obey the Gospel are saved in the same manner. What Paul was indicating is that the only way that Israelites/Jews could be saved is by obeying the same Gospel that the Gentiles obeyed.
This same fact was also taught to the congregations of Galatia. I would encourage the reader to read the entire third chapter of the book of Galatians. However for our study, I will emphasize a select few verses from that chapter. Paul made the point that all, both Jew and Gentile, were in need of salvation. He wrote, “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 afterwards 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” (Gal. 3:22-29).
The Israelites/Jews had been given warning that their physical lineage would not be enough for their salvation. John had mentioned to many Pharisees and Sadducees,“…O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matt. 3:7-10). Today, physical ancestry is not what is vital. Instead, spiritual Israel, the church of Christ, is the body of individuals that are “God’s people” (Gal. 6:16).
~ Corey Barnette