Copied from the sermon notes of Pastor Don Elmore
February 5, 2023
Scripture Reading: Romans 1:16
"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.”
The questions are: who is the “Jew” and who is the “Greek” mentioned in this verse of Scripture? There are several possibilities that interpreters of the Bible have come up with:
- The Jews are really anyone who is a Jew (be it an Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi, Ethiopian, Hassidic, conservative, orthodox, reformed, etc.) and the Greeks are all the rest of the people or Gentiles. That means everyone who is alive, i.e. universalism. NIV has translated “Gentile” instead of Greek for this verse.
- The Jews are really Judeans and the Greeks are the Greek speaking people; no blacks, Orientals, Pacific islanders or others are categorized in either group.
- The Jews are really the House of Judah and the Greeks are the House of Israel.
- The Jews are really the Edomites or Idumeans and the Greeks are the people of Alexander the Great’s empire who spoke Greek.
The Bible can only be understood if the Holy Spirit reveals the correct interpretation to His chosen people. Without the Holy Spirit, you can get all kinds of different views and ministries based on the Bible. You can find almost any church that has the beliefs that any person may hold, no matter how much they are filled with heresies or weak doctrine.
For example, there are “so-called Christian” churches that:
- Have sodomites, individuals that God classifies as being an abomination to Him, as their leaders,
- Have women (who fail to meet the qualification of having only one wife) as their pastors,
- Preach an Arminian doctrine,
- Preach a Calvinistic doctrine,
- Preach a premillennial or a midmillennial or a postmillennial doctrine,
- Instruct its congregations that the people of God of the Old Testament were the Jews and the people of God in the New Testament are the churches whose members have a few Jews and the rest Gentiles,
- Celebrate transubstantiation (eat flesh, and drink blood) each time they meet,
- Have classes of authority, i.e. Cardinals, Popes, Bishops, Monsignors, etc.,
- Ignore the diet that the LORD gave to His people,
- Have individuals that are not of the Abrahamic covenant as their leaders and members of their congregations,
- Practice usury on any loans that they might have, etc.,
- Gentiles [non-Jews] are to be married to Jesus during the future Tribulation Period.
- Celebrate the Mass of Jesus Christ and Easter.
But most churches all teach something similar about who the covenant people of God are; some say they are the physical seed—Israel (Jews); others say they are the spiritual seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—Gentiles (non-Jews).
All “Christian” Churches can’t be true churches as many of them are teaching opposing and contradicting doctrines of other assemblies. For example, many teach that the individual repents and chooses God, while a few others teach that God is 100% sovereign in who He chooses. That is two completely opposite and contradictory doctrines. The strange thing is that very few churches even consider it a problem, even though it concerns the salvation of the individual.
A few churches teach that Jesus and Satan are brothers; others teach that Jesus is both man and God; and others teach that Jesus is not divine. Again, very few churches even consider it a problem, although all three can’t be true.
The three main religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, all hold Abraham in great prominence. All three are descended in some way from Abram/Abraham. Islam is descended from Abram and Hager. The confusion comes with who is descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Dispensationalists say that the chosen of God are today’s Jews, but now in the New Testament, after the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, there is a new plan which was made with everyone who is living on the earth who has repented and believe.
I will remind everyone of the strange encounter I had when my daughter and I went to eat at Bob Evan’s Restaurant the last week of year 2022. After we finished our meal and were walking to our car, an unknown man who was behind me suddenly was yelling to me a question. He was asking me if I would consider taking my developmentally disabled daughter to his church so that she could receive a healing. I was puzzled. Where was his church located? Was it in Florence? Why is he questioning me? How many times does someone experience this? It was all very strange!
I then asked him a very logical question, “Where is your church? Is it in Florence?”
“No”, he answered, “It is in Los Angeles.”
What?! It is in California. I thought to myself, does he expect us to go all that way? It is only about 2100 miles! But he continued talking.
“We (he and his wife) came here to visit Answers in Genesis’ Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky and we are staying in Florence. We then came to eat breakfast at Bob Evan’s Restaurant.”
He told me that their pastor’s name was Kathryn Krick, a woman. My developmentally disabled daughter could receive help through Zoom or on Instagram he added. For their church is tied in with www.oneforisrael.org!
Well, that was even stranger, for that was the group from which I had just used their Statement of Faith for this sermon two days prior. Here is what I had copied from their website:
ATONEMENT AND SALVATION
God has always provided man [everyone living on the earth?] with a means of atonement. Prefigured by animal sacrifices, the only satisfaction of God’s wrath is provided by Messiah’s death on the cross. This death is the full and final atonement for sin. God accepted this atonement as proven by Yeshua’s resurrection. Any person [any person living on the earth?] who repents of his sins and trusts in Yeshua is saved by God’s grace. This grace leads men to loving and obedient fellowship with God forever. The Holy Spirit has a necessary role in man’s [anybody living on the earth?] recognizing God’s holiness, man’s [anybody living on the earth?] need for a Savior, and the salvation provided in the Messiah. His work is further necessary in man’s [anybody living on the earth?] repentance and faith, and in the ensuing process through which they are made increasingly holy.
THE PEOPLE OF GOD
The people of Israel[Jews] are God’s chosen people whom He loves with an everlasting love.”
[Only Israel was provided a means of atonement. First, by animal sacrifices that was conducted by the priest at the temple. And secondly, by the sacrifice of the true lamb of God and His resurrection. No other race had the opportunity to participate in these sacrifices.]
“God continues to fulfill all of the promises given to the Fathers. The body of the Messiah consists of Jews and Gentiles [everyone in the world who is not a Jew, so Jews and Gentiles signifies everyone who is alive in the world] who trust in the One God and in His Messiah for the forgiveness of sin. Both shares, without loss of national identity, in the spiritualpromises, which God made to Israel, and are equal before God.”
[Jews and Gentiles, counter to how the Dispensationalists define them, are not equal before God; they have different destinies, different origins, different gods. They have an intense hatred one for the other.]
Notice that the Messianic Statement of Faith has two peoples of God; Jews and Gentiles. Where did they get that from? They get it from Dispensational Theology. This belief system is less than 200 years old, but it has become very popular in Christendom. Dispensational theology experts interpret Scripture differently for these two groups. For they advocate that non-Jewish people are saved through faith in Christ alone, while they advocate that Jews can only obtain eternal life thorough good works under the Mosaic Law.
Such Dispensationalists are usually supporters of the modern Zionist movement and assume that the people popularly called Jews in our time are indeed true descendants of the ancient people of Judah. In this they are mistaken.
From another growing popular ministry, I copied one of their articles. But first, how did this organization begin?
VERSE BY VERSE MINISTRY INTERNATIONAL
This organization began in 2003 as a simple way of distributing recorded Bible studies of Stephen Armstrong, a Sunday School teacher and internet preacher. As Stephen taught the Bible in churches, homes and neighborhood clubhouses around San Antonio, Texas, attendance and interest grew.
Stephen Armstrong was the founder and principal teacher of Verse by Verse Ministry International. In 1997 Stephen left the military, found a job in Colorado, and began a self-directed course of study in preparation to teach the scriptures.
In 2001, Stephen received God’s call to move to San Antonio, Texas, where he soon found opportunities to teach and preach verse-by-verse in churches throughout the area. Despite having no professional religious training, in 2003 Stephen was called by God to lead a church planting effort in the city as pastor of Living Word Fellowship.
LIVING WORD FELLOWSHIP
That was all that it said about this church in the Verse by Verse Ministry website. After a little investigation, the Living Word Fellowship was/is a Christian cult that at various times was in the United States, Canada, Brazil and Mexico. The Living Word Fellowship was founded in South Gate, California by John Robert Stevens in 1951.
Stevens was born in Iowa and his family moved to California in 1929, during the Great Depression. In Los Angeles they attended the Angelus Temple, founded by Aimee Semple McPherson. In 1933 they returned to Washington, Iowa, where William Stevens founded the Christian Tabernacle Church, in which young John Stevens taught children’s Bible study and helped his father prepare sermons.
John Stevens began preaching on his own in Gladwin, Iowa, in 1935, before his sixteenth birthday, under the Four-Square Gospel denomination (there is one in Hamilton, Ohio). After his high school graduation in 1937 he also traveled locally and regionally as an evangelist and was ordained in the Assembly of God in September of 1937.
Stevens moved to the Los Angeles area in 1946 and later became pastor of an Assemblies of God church in Lynwood, California. Stevens was deeply affected by the Healing Revival and the Latter Rain Movement beginning in 1947. William Branham was a major influence on Stevens, who adopted many of his teachings and doctrines.
William Branham was born in Kentucky and moved to Jeffersonville, Indiana where he grew up in poverty.
He eventually became a famous faith healer who taught a “rebranded” Christian-Identity theology of dual seed line and segregation. Christian-Identity agrees with these two concepts. But Branham was identified with tax evasion and fraud. He was killed in a car accident where a drunk driver plowed into his car and fatally injured him.
When Assemblies of God formally rejected the Latter Rain movement and withdrew from participating in the healing revivals, Stevens began to have conflict with the denomination. Around 1950 he was dismissed as pastor and separated from the Four-Square Gospel and Assemblies of God denominations, claiming that they were rejecting divine revelation.
In 1951 he established his own church in South Gate, California, and by 1955 he had expanded his ministry into a new movement based largely on the teachings of Branham and the Latter Rain. Initially called the Church of the Living Word, it was later called the Living Word Fellowship. For the remainder of his life he was the group’s spiritual leader, expanding across the United States and into several other countries.
At its peak in the 1970s, the fellowship had about 100 member congregations. Its oversight was centered at Shiloh, a farm and retreat site near Kalona, Iowa. Membership declined after founder Stevens’ death in 1983 and the fellowship continued to close churches throughout the 1990s. As of early 2018, it comprised around ten primary churches.
As of August 2020, five women have filed lawsuits against the Living Word Fellowship. The lawsuits claim that Living Word employees and officials sexually abused these women when they were minors. The Living Word Fellowship announced in late November 2018 that, in the wake of many sexual misconduct scandals, it was closing the organization and its central governing body.
MORE OF THE MINISTRY OF VBVMI
The VBVMI website doesn’t say how long their leader, Stephen Armstrong, was pastor of the Living Word Fellowship church, but that he had resigned from that position and went back to recording verse by verse messages on the internet. He soon received requests from churches around the country to hear him teach, and the online audience began requesting more content than the existing website could accommodate. Soon the website experienced a surge in traffic and a regular pattern of donations.
By 2009 the ministry website was receiving over one million hits and distributing nearly 600,000 Bible lessons each year. Over the years it has experienced continued growth. Stephen passed away in January 2021 leaving behind a library of insightful Bible teaching and a ministry team committed to advancing the Gospel worldwide.
Let’s look at one of the Verse by Verse Ministry International teachings by Stephen Armstrong, on the following topic:
DO GENTILES [NON-JEWS] RECEIVE THE PROMISES OF THE COVENANTS GIVEN TO ABRAHAM?
“In Ephesians, Paul teaches that Gentiles [non-Jews] were not natural recipients of the covenants though they were included. Beginning with Abraham, the Lord made promises to bring a Deliverer through Abraham’s family. The family of Abraham are the Jewish people, beginning with Isaac. Prior to Isaac, there was no such thing as Jew or Gentile. By definition, the word Gentile means someone who is not Jewish, therefore the concept of a Gentile has no meaning unless a Jewish nation exists.
Therefore, we say Isaac was the first Jew (i.e., the first in Abraham’s family to receive the promises). All who descend from Isaac and Jacob [does that included the seed of Esau?] are the people of the covenant. Later, God elaborates on His covenant by speaking through the prophets and eventually through Christ Himself. All these promises were given to the Jewish people, not to Gentiles, and only those who trace their ancestry to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob may be considered Jews.”
[This is the same argument that the Pharisees gave to Jesus when they claimed that they were descendants of Abraham. Their family tree was traced back to Abraham, Isaac and Esau. Christ referred to them as being the offspring of the devil; John 8:31-44.]
“Thankfully, the Lord also made accommodation for Gentiles [non-Jews] in His covenants:
GEN. 12:1 Now the Lord said to Abram, Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you;
GEN. 12:2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;
GEN. 12:3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. [Special emphases made by the editor of NCM].
Notice in the covenant given to Abraham, the Lord declared that through Abraham’s family (i.e., the Jewish people) all families (i.e., the Gentiles) would be blessed.”
[Does that mean that “all the families of the earth”, including the Korean, Tanzanian, Jordanian, Chinese, Venezuelan, Mexican, Turkey, Palestinians, New Guinea nations, etc. have received a blessing from Abraham? Does that mean that the seven Canaanite nations that God told His people to exterminate would be blessed? How were they blessed? Or does it mean only the Abrahamic nations will be blessed.]
“So, the Lord promised that He would extend the blessing He assigned to the Jewish people into the entire world. Gentiles are not the recipients of the covenants, but we do have opportunity to participate in them (by faith) and therefore receive the blessings of these promises. Paul describes our [Gentile] relationship to the covenants given to Israel [Jews] in this way:
ROM. 11:17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,
ROM. 11:18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.
Gentiles are ‘grafted’ into the promises given to Israel by our faith in Christ, Who is the promised fulfillment of those covenants? Paul says we are being grafted into a root that we were not naturally a part of, though we now are nourished by the root. The root in Paul’s analogy is the nation of Israel [Jews] and the covenants God gave to that nation. We are not naturally born Jews, but nevertheless we are receiving what God promised to the Jews by our faith.”
SHORT REBUTTAL OF VBVMI’S INTEREPRETATION THAT NON-JEWS RECEIVE THE THE JEWS
In the first sentence on this subject made by Verse by Verse Ministry begins a series of mistakes. It says that the “Gentiles were not natural recipients though they were included.” It says that the Jews began with Isaac and that there were no Jews or Gentiles before Isaac. What is wrong with these statements?
1. Most Jews and Judeo-Christians indicate that either Abraham was the first Jew or Jacob or one of his sons, Judah. Very few agree with this article, that it was Isaac. But they are all incorrect as neither of our patriarchal fathers were Jewish; they were all Hebrews.
2. If Isaac was the first Jew, then wouldn’t his two sons (Esau and Jacob) be Jews too? VBVMI doesn’t answer that question. The correct answer is that Esau, through his despising of the covenant, married into the wrong seed line and his children eventually became Jewish later in history. Jacob and Esau were not Jews; but their offspring became two separate hostile nations; one Israel and the other eventually became called the Jews.
3. Some biblical critics believe that the tribe of Cain was the Kenites…“I will put enmity between thy [serpent’s] seed and the seed of the woman” Genesis 3:15. The Kenites or the Cainites later became the Canaanites which later became the Edomites or Idumeans (Greek) which later became the Jews.
The first Jew doesn’t come on the scene until after the kingdom of Israel was split into two different kingdoms:
(1) The House of Judah, and
(2) The House of Israel.
Living among them was a people known as Kenites, Canaanites or Idumeans, prior to their new name “Jew.”
Esau, the twin brother of Jacob, married several Hittite (Canaanite) women and one woman from Ishmael. Soon after the Babylonian captivity, their descendants became known as Jews and they followed the Babylonian Talmud.
4. Israel was made up of first 12 tribes and later 13 as Joseph’s tribe was given unto his two sons; the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Israel eventually had as their king the LORD God Himself. God was later asked to give unto them a man-king like the other nations had. So, God gave them King Saul, followed by King David, followed by King Solomon. After King Solomon the nation quickly split into two separate nations; one on the north, consisting of 10 tribes, and the other on the south, consisting of three tribes.
The northern kingdom never had the right king, the right priests, the right temple or the right God. They were soon taken into captivity by the Assyrians and their nation ceased to be. Whatever happened to them? Were they assimilated? Did they die off? But that can’t be so, as the covenant that they were part of was an everlasting covenant?
The House of Israel was the larger of the two kingdoms (10 of 13 tribes). And because of their unfaithfulness, they were cut off from the covenant. Would they ever be part of the covenant again? They had eventually settled in the British Isles, continental Europe and Southern Europe by the time of the birth of their Savior.
The southern kingdom lasted for about a century and a half after the captivity of the northern kingdom before it was taken captive by the Babylonians. After being in captivity for 70 years, a small remnant was permitted to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls and Temple.
Several centuries later, in 167 BC, Judas Maccabee, invaded Idumeans (Edomites) sacking Hebron. John Hyrcanus (134-104 BC) subdued the Idumeans. In 135-104 BC, High Priest John Hyrcanus conquered, and force-converted the Edomites in Idumea to be circumcised and forcibly converted them to the laws of Judah. Compare the maps below: Edom is Idumea.
In “Antiquities of the Jews”, Josephus, IX, page 279, it says:
“Hyrcanus [High Priest, 135-104 BC] took also Dora and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews [Judahites]; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, and the rest of the Jewish [Israelite] ways of living; at which time therefore this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews” [Edomite Judeans].
So, when Jesus was born, there were His people of Judah (including the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi), called (Hebrew) Judeans, and there were people of Esau, also called (Idumean) Judeans but the ten-tribe, former House of Israel was not there.
They, Judah, Levi and Esau, were living in the region of Judea and Benjamin was dwelling mostly in Galilee, which was towards the north. The “seed of the Serpent” have descended over the years from Cain through Canaan, through Esau, and various intermarriages between the two seeds. The Edomites [also known as Idumeans] who had moved into the land of Judah earlier, by the time of Christ had infiltrated and then usurped the institution of the Kingdom of Judah. But the Canaanites, and the related Edomites, had never perished from the land, and instead they flourished in it.
Later, after the return of some of Judah with Zerubbabel and the eventual rise of Jerusalem in the 2nd century BC, those Canaanites and Edomites were all converted to the teaching of the Talmud and Kabbalah of the religion of Judaism, and the result is the Jews of today. This is the origin of the Jews.
THE OLIVE TREE ANALOGY
Consider the olive tree analogy in Romans 11. Note that in the illustration there is one good olive tree. Paul explains that branches were broken off this olive tree and “wild shoots” were grafted into it. The deciding question is who were the “wild shoots” that were grafted in? Were they Gentiles, and if they were, who were the Gentiles? Dispensationalists say that the “wild shoots” that were grafted in represent everybody of every race. But it could only be “wild shoots” from an olive tree. It couldn’t represent all the trees of the earth. You can’t put a wild shoot of an apple tree and graft it into an olive tree.
Christian-Identity believes that the one olive tree represents the people of God that has long existed. Unbelieving members of the House of Israel and House of Judah represented by branches that have been broken off this tree by God, leaving only believing branches (e.g., Jesus’ parents and John the Baptist).
Believing members of the former divorced House of Israel of Israel, which included many of the Romans, have been grafted into this one tree so that it now consists of believing people from both the House of Israel and House of Judah. The dispensationalists leave out the tribes of the Birthright (the sons of Joseph); Christian-Identity does not. Thus, the need for preaching the “gospel of the kingdom.”
The Apostle Paul said in his defense:
Acts 26:6, 7
6) “And now I [Apostle Paul] stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
7) Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews [Edomite Judeans.]
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS DOCTRINE OF THE DISPENSATIONALISTS?
The danger of dispensationalism is that it teaches that everyone who is alive on the planet is a candidate for salvation. They fail to teach that Judaism, with its Talmud and Kabballah, and true Christianity are bitter enemies. In fact, most churches teach that the two are equal. What danger is it if Christianity doesn’t recognize who their enemy is and what they teach? For the Bible teaches that there is no hope for salvation of the one group. Their eventual destination is where, in their own fictitious writings of the Talmud, they put our holy Savior and Redeemer.
Dispensationalists often spend so much time and energy on Bible prophecy, probably the most obscure of all areas of theology, that they neglect other areas that are critical to spiritual health. Eschatology consumes them. They light upon small features of prophecy, sink their opinion deeply, and then heap scorn and ridicule upon all others who dare to disagree. They break fellowship and split churches, all because of a single disagreement about a narrow point of anticipated end-time events.
The eagerness with which Dispensationalists attempt to drive a wedge between the Old and New Testaments and strain to find discontinuity is dangerous. They ignore the doctrine of the Kinsman-Redeemer. God is faithful not to break His own laws. Jesus is the Kinsman-Redeemer of His own kinsmen, the nation of Israel, not of others who are not His kinsmen.
There is only one set of promises in prophecy and these are made only to Israel. There is no separate set made for any non-Israelite church. The fulfillment can only be made in the same people, or as Paul puts it, it is us, their children.
But Abraham wasn’t a Jew; neither was Moses, or Aaron, or Joseph or the Christ. They’ve tricked most of the sheep into thinking that they are us. Beware of false preachers.
Dispensationalism’s teaching of the end times:
To be continued.
Blessed be the LORD God of Israel.