JUNE 14, 2020 BEN J BENSING
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When the Jews rejected the gospel, the Apostles and other missionaries in the first-century, turned to the Gentiles. An interesting thought comes to one’s mind: had the Jews accepted the gospel, would the Gentiles still be part of the salvation equation, or, would the Gentiles be left out?
In the Old Testament, in Genesis 22:18, God swore an oath to Abraham saying, “And through your offspring all nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me”. (NIV) Fast forward to the New Testament, in Matthew 16:19, Jesus told Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”.
First of all, we have to remember that the Old Testament is the physical foreshadowing of New Testament realities, and therefore, in this context, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham that through his offspring (i.e. Christ Jesus) “all nations” of the earth will be blessed. It’s not just physical, but spiritual blessings as well. Fact is, there is no greater blessing than to receive the gift of salvation. Such a blessing transcends the boundaries of the physical and the eternal.
It was the apostle Peter who opened the door of the kingdom of heaven (he has the keys, remember) on the day of the Pentecost when he preached to the Jews (Acts 2:38-42) about salvation in Christ Jesus. That day, about three thousand (3,000) Jews believed the message of salvation and were baptized in the name of the Lord.
Peter also opened that door of opportunity to the Gentiles when he visited the house of Cornelius, a Roman centurion (a Gentile), and preached the word of God. According to Acts 10:34-48, Cornelius and his household and those that were with him believed the message of salvation and became the first Gentile converts to Christianity. It was also the first instance where the Holy Spirit was poured out among the Gentiles, just as it was poured out among the Jews on the day of the Pentecost – leaving the Jewish believers in awe and wonder that God would include the Gentiles in His plan for salvation.
Finally, the apostle Paul makes his argument that if the rejection of the Jews to the message of salvation in Christ means blessings to the whole world, how much more riches and blessings their repentance and acceptance would bring? (Romans 11:1-12)
Whether the Jews believed in Christ or rejected Him, it is clear from the beginning that God’s plan for salvation included the Gentiles. This is in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:18. As we can see, the word of God will stand the test of time, the test of circumstances, and the test of faith. Always.