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Core Christianity: Tough Questions Answered

FAQ: Who Are the True People of God?

by Adriel Sanchez posted April 22, 2022

Who are the true people of God? The phrase replacement theology is sometimes used to describe those who have a covenantal way of answering this question. By “covenantal,” I mean seeing the Bible as a unified story of redemption rooted in the promise God has made to his people through covenants. Covenant theology traces that promise through the whole biblical story. It’s the promise of redemption in Jesus Christ.

There are, of course, a number of ways in which Bible teachers and theologians have read the Scriptures. There’s the covenantal framework, which I embrace and believe is most faithful to the Bible. Some, though, have a dispensational way of reading of the Bible, and it’s typically dispensationalists who call covenant theology “replacement theology.” That term suggests that Christians have replaced Israel so that God no longer has a purpose or plan for ethnic Israel. But that’s not what covenant theologians, like me, actually believe.

There’s only one people of God throughout redemptive history. God doesn’t have multiple peoples and multiple plans of salvation. He’s not going to save the Israelites in the Old Testament one way and Christians under the New Covenant another way. No, there’s one people of God (Eph. 2).

Those who believe in Jesus Christ, who have embraced the gospel, are made a part of that one people of God (Rom. 11:11). We receive, by faith, the promises of God that were made to the Old Testament patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That’s why the apostle Paul says that Christians are the children of Abraham (Gal. 3:7–9).

In Ephesians 2, this is clearly taught. Paul tells Gentile Christians—that is, non-Jews—that though they weren’t part of God’s people before Jesus came, they’re now in Jesus Christ joined with believing Jews into one new people: “Therefore, remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh . . . were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and is broken down in his flesh, the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might created in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace” (Eph. 2:11–15). According to Paul, there’s one people of God, created through faith in Jesus Christ.

So, it’s not that the Church has replaced Israel. Instead, it’s that through faith in Jesus Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) are both part of God’s one people. It’s wonderful to realize that we’re the children of Abraham, by faith. That’s God’s glorious promise.

God hasn’t cast aside the Jews. In fact, Paul says just the opposite in Romans 9–11, God is drawing people everywhere to himself, including ethnic Israel, through the promise of salvation in Jesus Christ. That’s the only way any human being can ever have a saving relationship with God.

This article is part of our Frequently Asked Questions series. Listen to Pastor Adriel answer this question on Core Radio here.

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Photo of Adriel Sanchez

Adriel Sanchez

Adriel Sanchez is pastor of North Park Presbyterian Church, a congregation in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, he also serves the broader church as a host on the Core Christianity radio program, a live, daily call-in talk show where he answers listeners' questions about the Bible and the Christian faith. He and his wife Ysabel live in San Diego with their five children.

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