I have a friend who loves Jesus a lot. She’s passionate about Him. She speaks frequently of Him as the bridegroom and herself as part of His bride, the church. So you can imagine my surprise when, a few years ago, she turned and said to me, “You aren’t into that Replacement Theology are you?”
Now if you’re not familiar with the term, “Replacement Theology”, in short, is the view that the church has replaced Israel as the heir of all the promises of God. In other words, God has discarded the nation of Israel and replaced her with the church as the focus of all His affections.
Such a view is problematic for several reasons. First, the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, makes a clear distinction between those who are ethnic Jews, circumcised and within the household of Israel, and those who are a part of the remnant of Israel, the recipients of God’s particular favor. Jesus makes this distinction clear in His discussion with the scribes and Pharisees in John 6. While they claim to be children of Abraham, Jesus says there are two groups within Israel: those who are children of the promise and those who are not. Thus, one’s ethnicity does not ensure one’s standing with God.
Second, it’s clear from both Old Testament prophecy and New Testament teaching that it’s only through Christ that one is made acceptable to God and joined to the body of Christ. In Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, male or female, bond or free (Galatians 3:28). Therefore, any thought that one’s ethnic heritage has anything to do with our standing with God is misguided at best.
The truth is that the New Testament affirms Fulfillment Theology rather than Replacement Theology. That is what we see all through Paul’s letter to the Colossians. In Sunday’s text—Colossians 2:16-23 Paul declares, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food or drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath, (etc.). These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Every New Testament author understands Jesus to be the culmination of the Old Testament Word of God. He is the last Adam, the true Israel, the suffering servant, the Son of David, the faithful remnant, the ultimate prophet, the final priest, the greatest and most glorious King.
Therefore, Jesus is the true Israel. The church, i.e. those reconciled to God through the atoning work of Christ and His imputed righteous, are the true Israel of God who are redeemed IN Him. Our only hope is being found in Him. That’s all His work. Our work is to trust Him. That’s Paul’s point.
We’re going to talk about the implications of being in Christ this Sunday morning in a message entitled, “Greater than Shadows.” In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:
1. How would you define a shadow?
2. Why would Paul call religious behavior such as noted in verse 16 a shadow?
3. What does he mean when he says that Christ is “the substance” in verse 17?
4. If verses 9 & 10 are the apex of his argument, what is he saying about all other additions or requirements men might impose?
5. How does Colossians 1:27 relate to Colossians 2:9, 10?
6. Paul cites three separate threats to Christ’s sufficiency that come to every believer from the outside and the inside. What are they?
7. Read Romans 14. How does this relate?
8. Read Mark 7:1-23. How does this relate?
9. What is Paul referring to in verse 18?
10. What does he mean when he says in verse 23, that self-made religion, asceticism, and severity to the body are of no value in stopping self-indulgence?
See you Sunday as we seek to come out of the shadows and into the marvelous light!