Firstborn Sonship of Christ

Vol 25 No 4
April 2000
The New Birth
Series Number: 18


      This article for April is similar to the March article, as the title above in-dicates. And though the content of this article deals much with "election," it will be pointed out that election is "in Christ," specifically "in the body of Christ," which is the church. The intent of the article is to establish, from the Scriptures, that the saved and scripturally baptized, but unfaithful believer, in the body of Christ will be cut off from or separated from Christ and from the election. As established repeatedly in previous articles, the unfaithful saved person is still a son, but will be a son enslaved to the elements of that world, instead of being a firstborn son who "by grace through faith" will inherit the fullness of God.


      Nothing can separate us from Christ so long as we continue believing into Christ. Traditional doctrine will not agree with this, but we will continue to establish that believing into Christ is a progressive requirement throughout the Scriptures.
      35 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
       36 "As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'
       37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
       38 "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
      39"Nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," Rom 8:35-39.
      This passage appears to say there is absolutely nothing that can separate God's covenant people from Christ. And as long as we continue believing into the body of Christ, it is true that nothing can separate us from God, from Christ, or from the Holy Spirit. However, we have repeatedly demonstrated that most saved people have never been joined to Christ (Lk 7:28-29; Rom 6:3-5; 1Co 6:15-17), that God is faithful to His oath (Heb 3:11; 4:3;2Ti 2:11-13), that the unfaithful saved in covenant standing are constantly being separated from Christ (Jn 15:1-6; Rom 11:11-22; Gal; 5:1-4), and the Scriptures are filled with warnings and examples of proper covenant people who have been separated from Christ, 1Co 10:1-12; 1Ti 1:19-20; Heb 3:7-19; 2Pe 3:16-17. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible provides a continuing series of examples of God's covenant people turning from the prescribed pattern of "by grace through faith" obedience, and being cut off from the covenants, from the covenant people, and from all that the covenants promise, which means being cut off from oneness with God, with Christ, and with the Holy Spirit.


      11 "I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation (covenant salvation) has come to the Gentiles.
      12 "Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
      13 "For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,
      14 "If by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them (with covenant salvation or salvation of the life).
      15 "For if their being cast away is the (offer of) reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life (a divine resurrection birth) from the dead?
      16 "For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
      17 "And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,
      18 "Do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
      19 "You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.'
      20 "Well said. Because of unbelief (making shipwreck of faith) they were broken off, and you have stood by faith Do not be haughty, but fear.
      21 "For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.
      22 "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, IF you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off," Rom 11:11-22.
      Here is a part of one of the snares, traps, and stumbling blocks God has placed in the Scriptures (Rom 11:8-10), that we will later discuss more fullly. Traditional doctrine cannot harmonize this passage and so many others like it with Rom 8:32-39.

1. Who Is Speaking?

      The heavenly Father through Christ through the Holy Spirit are all the Authors of the Holy Scriptures. Here, Paul is being used as the human instrument.

2. The Churches in Rome Were the Ones Addressed.

       The churches in Rome were the immediate recipients of this letter. Secondarily, however, all true local churches, and all the members of true churches are also intended as recipients of all the Scriptures. This is obvious throughout the Bible, Lk 24:44; Lk 4:15-21; Jn 10:34-35; Eph 3:10-11; Ti 3:15-17; 2Pe 1:12-21. To say these olive branches that were cut off were Israelites who had never believed is to twist what the Spirit is saying in the passage.

3. About What Is Paul Writing?

      Paul is writing about the election, the chosen people, the special people, the faithful covenant people, the "of faith" seed of Abraham, and those who are called "Christ's." These will be one and the same bride people in the resurrection, but there will be nations of saved people who will never share in this firstborn sonship of Christ.
      1."I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin," Rom 11:1.
      The major theme in this verse and in the whole chapter is "election" by grace through a persevering faith. Election is the subject in the beginning of this chapter, in the end of the chapter, and very obviously throughout the chapter.
      Who are "His people?" They are God's "elect." They are the "of faith" seed of Abraham. They are "Christ's." We will see this all the way through Romans 11. Israel is God's "elect" people, His "chosen" people, His "special" people, His faithful "covenant" people, (Ex 19:4-6; Deu 26:19-26).
      7 "Therefore know that only those who are of faith are (covenant) sons of Abraham," Gal 3:7.
      29 "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the (covenant) promise," Gal 3:29.
      These physical descendants of Abraham, as a nation, are cut off during the church age (Rom 11:11-31), but they will be grafted back into their elect, covenant position when Christ returns – "Concerning the Gospel (bringing Gentiles into the covenant election, Eph 3:6) they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the ELECTION they are beloved for the sake of the fathers," Rom 11:28.
      2."God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew....." Rom 11:2.
      Who are God's people whom He "foreknew"? Israel is God's elect. However, there are some who do not know that those whom God foreknew are those in the firstborn sonship of Christ, and that God has many other sons who are not firstborn sons and are not God's elect, Gal 4:21 thru 5:5; Heb 12:8.
      29 "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many (firstborn) brethren," (Rom 8:29; Ex 4:22-23; Heb 12:23), bringing them to glory, Heb 2:10; 5:8-9.


      1 "Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying:
      2 "‘YOU ONLY HAVE I KNOWN of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities,'" Amo 3:1-2.
      You only have I foreknown, Rom 11. You only have I chosen, Isa 44:1. You only have I elected, Isa 45:4. You only have I formed especially for Myself, Isa 43:21; 44:21; 1Pe 2:5,9. You only are My covenant people, Rom 9:4; Heb 9:8-10. You only are my glory, Rom 9:4. You only have My covenant promises, Rom 9:4. You only are my firstborn sons, Ex 4:22-23; 11; 12; 13; Heb 12:23. Therefore, You only am I chastening (training) and qualifying for the firstborn sonship of Christ. Israel only....., and the church has been grafted into that elect stock of Abraham. The training and qualifying are the same, and only those who continue believing into Christ and thereby overcome in this severe godly training were predestined to be God's elect firstborn before creation began, Heb 5:8-9; 12:1-29.
      Israel is the only nation of people which God "foreknew" as His "elect" people, His covenant people, therefore He chastens them with covenant disciplinary training, Heb 12:1-17. Christ is the Jew (the Seed of Abraham), and those who are in the body of Christ, are thereby grafted into the stock of Israel. As believing Gentiles (with true heart circumcision, Rom 2:28-29) we are counted as true seed of Abraham, Gal 3:29-29; Rom 2:28-29; 11:11-22. When a church member must be scripturally excluded from a true local church, even if he is a Jew, he becomes as a Gentile (no longer a Jew) before God, Mt 18:15-18; Rom 2:28-29; 11:11-22.
      "The fullness of the Gentiles" is nearly over, and God will graft those tame (cultured) olive branches back into their national covenant "elect" position. God has not permanently cast away His covenant elect people whom He "foreknew." Since God is not governed by time, He has already experienced them (known them beforehand) as His firstborn sons possessing the fullness of deity, Ex 4:22-23; Rom 8:23-30; 9:24-33;Heb 12:23 (1-29); Eph 2:10-22; 3:6.


      3 "'LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life'?
      4 "But what does the divine response say to him? 'I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'
      5 "Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace," Rom 11:3-5.
      God predestined that His elect, covenant people repent, believe, and continue believing into the body of Christ by grace through faith. That is precisely what we see in Romans 11. Election is not unconditional: conversely, though Christ was God's predestined (elect) Chief Corner Stone, it was necessary that He learn obedience by suffering – though He was the Son of God in a human body, He had to "learn obedience by the things He suffered,"Heb 5:9. The Father did not make Christ do this; rather, as Christ always chose to do the will of the Father, He also chose to learn obedience by the things He suffered because it was the will of the Father, Phi 2:6-8; Mt 26:39-45; Jn 10:17-18; Heb 5:7; 12:2-3. And God's elect people, in the same way, must faithfully endure the covenant disciplinary training in order to qualify to be God's elect, Heb 5:8-9; 12:1-29; Rom 8:6,13,17-30.
      We are by birth slaves of sin and are utterly unable to exercise our will in a Godward way. However, God brings our mind, (heart or will) to the place where we, "by grace through faith," are able to exercise our will and choose to do His will and obey Him. Only those who, "by grace through faith," continue believing into Christ (into the body to Christ) and endure God's disciplinary training (hold fast to the end), are the ones whom God "foreknew" in the beginning as His firstborn sons. The unfaithful saved have been predestined to be mere flesh sons – God's flesh sons in mere human bodies, not God's firstborn sons in divine bodies, Amo 3:1-2; Gal 4:21 thru 5:5; Rom 8:23-30; Heb 5:8-9; 12:1-29.


      "6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work," Rom 11:6.
      Observe that we are making a brief run-through of Rom 11.
      God does not accept works of righteousness which we, in our flesh, have done, Rom 9:30 thru 10:3; Ti 3:5.
      6 "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away," Isa 64:6.
      The first major requirement of the Law Covenant was that all those under the Law Covenant were required to keep all the commandments of that covenant perfectly, which thing, of course, no one could do. But they were required to try to keep the Law perfectly every day of their life. The result was the curse, the condemnation, the death sentence, the wrath of God, slavery, etc., which the Law Covenant pronounced upon every Law-breaker.
      However, the second major requirement of the Law Covenant was that the Law-breaker must bring a prescribed animal sacrifice which died (was sacrificed) in the Law-breaker's place. There were probably Israelites who did not understand the curse and condemnation, nor the meaning of the animal sacrifices. However, without expanded explanation here, we will simply state that when the believing Israelite obeyed by faith, his heart was counted as circumcised, and his "faith" was counted as faith-obedience, or faith works, and not flesh works.
      The Israelites under the Law Covenant were daily and constantly required to perform "flesh works," yet on the basis of their faith, their sins (broken laws) were forgiven and their faith works of obedience were constantly counted (credited) as righteous works – not a "once-for-all" justification, but true Biblical progressive justification that will be canceled out if we stop believing into Christ's firstborn sonship, Rom 2; 9; 10; 11; Eze 3:20; 18:24; 33:12-13.
      True scriptural justification depends on a daily walking in the steps of the faith of Abraham, Rom 4:11-25. This is how Zacharias and Elizabeth, with circumcised hearts, were credited as "walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless," Lk 1:5-6.
      Though all our righteousness are as filthy rags, there have nevertheless always been "good works" or "faith works", which God will accept, and which He has commanded that we must
"walk in them:"
      "10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them," Eph 2:10; Heb 11.
      Here are "good works," and we are to constantly walk in them.
      "By faith Abel offered..." "By faith Enoch walked..." "By faith Noah built..." "By faith Abraham obeyed..." "By faith" this honor roll of the faithful of the Old Testament saints performed a host of "good works" which were acceptable to God, and were justified by these "faith works," because the works were "of faith," Heb 11. All of these were "believing into Christ" by their animal sacrifices which portrayed Christ, and by their:
      26 "Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt (the world); for he looked to the reward," Heb 11:26.
      16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven," Mt 5:16.
      8 "This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men," Ti 3:8.


      10 "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the GRACE of God which was with me," 1Co 15:10.
      Paul labored more abundantly than all the other apostles, yet it was not Paul, but the grace of God by which he labored. These labors (works) of Paul included everything he did – "by the grace of God I am what I am." However, it was all by faith, and furthermore, it was the Holy Spirit using Paul's spirit (or mind) and body.
      12 "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
      13 "For it is God who is constantly working in you both to be willing and to be doing for His good pleasure," Phi 2:12-13.
      The Philippians were to work out their own salvation (salvation of their lives), but it would be the Spirit of God working in and through them.
      19 "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;
      20 "For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you," Mt 10:19-20.
      This is no spook passage. The Holy Spirit uses our minds and our bodies in the process of performing all the works of the Great Commission, Mt 28:18-20. See also other passages which state that our faith works (good works) are the working of the Holy Spirit in and through us, therefore they are "by grace through faith" works, Heb 4:16; 11:1-39; 12:28; 1Pe 4:10; 2Co 12:9-10.


      We now come back to Rom 11 which emphasizes the election and those who fail to make their calling and election sure.
      7 "What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but THE ELECT have obtained it, and the rest were blinded," Rom 11:7.
      The Scriptures are here, as we will see shortly, speaking of believing (saved) Israelites who were trusting in their own flesh works as they pursued the righteousness promised in the covenants, Rom 9:30 thru 10:3. Today we have many saved and scripturally baptized church members who are unaware that they are doing this very thing. When we have labored hard together with good brethren for twenty, thirty, or more years, then see them turn their back on the truth and on their pastor or other preacher brethren, we recognize precisely what the apostle Peter meant when he wrote:
       16 "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
       17 "YOU therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked," 2Pe 3:16-17.
      These people to whom Peter wrote were saved, scripturally baptized church members, just as those of the church in Laodicea, whom the Lord would vomit out of Himself, Rev 3:14-21. See also 1Co 9:27 thru 10:12; Heb 3:6-19; 6:4-8; 10:25-31; 1Ti 1:19-20; Jn 15:1-6; et al. This can certainly happen. Obviously true churches have been spewed out of the Lord's mouth, after which they are no longer "in Christ," (in the body of Christ), no longer in the election, and no longer in the firstborn sonship.
      12 "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall," 1Co 10:12.
      Paul was well aware of this imminent hazard, and feared greatly lest he also become disapproved and rejected, 1Co 9:23-27. This genuine fear caused the apostle to write the next twelve verses as a stern warning to the Corinthians, which is also applicable to all the Lord's churches, 1Co 10:1-12.
      Israel, who are God's elect by covenant grace, failed because they sought to establish their own righteousness by their own works, which canceled out God's righteousness which is by grace through faith works, Rom 9:30 thru 10:4.


      8 "Just as it is written: ‘God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear, to this very day.'
      9 "And David says: ‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a recompense to them.'
      10 "Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, and bow down their back always,'" Rom 11:8-10.
      The Bible was written and given to God's covenant people (Deu 4:7-8; 29:29; Ps 103:7; 147:19-20; Rom 3:1-2; Eph 3:10; Rev 1:11; 22:16), and was written to provide an all-sufficient rule of faith and practice for the covenant people, 2Ti 3:15-17. The Bible also describes again and again how the covenant people made shipwreck of faith by rebellion (1Co 10:1-12; Heb 3:7-10), by turning aside to idolatry (Judges thru Nehemiah), and by twisting of God's Word to form a comfortable religious feeling, Mt 23; Rom 10:1-3. That appears to be where we are again just before the Lord returns, Mt 7:21-27; 24:12-13,36-51; 5:5; 2Ti 3:11-5; Rev 3:16-20.
      The snare, the trap, the stumbling block pertains to blindness of the eyes, dullness of the ears, and hardness of the heart. We are convinced we are right in our theology. We are positive we are upright in our preaching and conduct. But the truth is we "do not know that you (we) are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked," Rev 3:17.


      11 "I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.
      12 "Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
       13 "For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,
      14 "If by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.
      15 "For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" Rom 11:11-15.
      May the Lord help us to understand that the subject is election, and that the elect people were genuine believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but were staunchly and stubbornly set in their seeking to establish their own righteousness by their flesh works, rather than submitting to the righteousness of God by walking by faith, Rom 10:1-3.
      The salvation of Rom 10:1 and 11:11 is not salvation from hell, but salvation of the "life," which Jesus emphasized so very much, Mt 5:22,29,30 (Gehenna is not hades or hell); 10:22,28; 16:24-27; 18:1-35; 19:16-30; 24:12-13,36-51; 25:1-46.


      17 "And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree," Rom 11:17.
      These branches of the cultured olive tree were "cut off," just as the branches of the Vine were warned would happen to them if they did not continue believing into Christ, Jn 15:1-11. The branches of the olive tree were partaking of the root and fatness of the olive tree, just as the apostles were called branches of the Vine and were partaking of the life of the Vine, Jn 15:1-11. The high priest still prophesied by the Holy Spirit, Jn 11:50-51. Saved and scripturally baptized church members and preachers can do some very wicked things. Sometimes they end up repenting as David did, and some times they are "cut off," out of the election as has happened to many in Israel and in the church. These were disqualified from being partakers of Christ (were separated from Christ), 1Co 9:23 thru 10:12; Heb 3:6-19; 1Ti 1:19-20; Heb 6:4-8; 10:25-31; 12:15-17; 2Pe 1:5-10; 3:16-17
????       1 "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
      2 "Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.
      3 "And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.
      4 "You have become estranged (severed, separated) from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by Law; you have fallen from grace," Gal 5:1-4.
      The Galatian churches were among God's elect people, yet the Holy Spirit through Paul was warning them that in spite of their election status, if they persisted in trying to keep the Law Covenant along with the New Covenant they would be cut off (severed, ineffective) from Christ.
      This certainly means they would fail to make their calling and election sure. We must recognize that election is predestined by God to be conditioned on a faithful and daily "by grace through faith" walk of life, Mt 5:9,44-45; 12:46-50; Jn 3:1-18; Rom 8:13-30; 9:4,8,24-33; 2Co 6:14-18; ITi 3:5; Heb 12:1-23; 1Pe 1:3-9; 1Jn 2:23 thru 5:13; Rev 21:7. God has, however, predestined the unfaithful saved to be slave sons of the flesh, Gal 4:19-3; 5:1-5; Heb 5:8-9; 12:8,15-17; et al.


      17 "And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree," Rom 11:17.
      As a nation the elect people fell out of the election because they made shipwreck of faith (Rom 11:11-20), and those in the body of Christ were grafted in "among them" – into the same olive tree. And it will be the same olive tree into which the believing part of the nation of Israel will be grafted back in when Christ returns, Rom 11:24-33.
      Why is the whole of the Old Testament given to God's dealings with Israel? Because Israel is God's elect people, Amo 3:1-2; Isa 43 thru 55; Rom 2:28-29; 11; Gal 3:6-9,13,29; Eph 2:11-22. God does not have two elect peoples, and He does not have two firstborn sonships. Both Israel and the church are called God's firstborn sons, Ex 4:23-24; 12:1-50; Heb 12:1-23. Israel and the church are predestined to be one and the same in the purpose of God; and according to Heb 11, God has predestined all the faithful covenant people of all ages to be the bride of Christ and inherit the heavenly Jerusalem in the ages to come, Rev 21. However, there will be nations of non-covenant sons (Gal 4:19-31; 5:1-4; Heb 12:8,15-27), who will populate the new earth, Rev 21:23-26; 22:1-2.
      The church has been grafted into Israel's elect position, and though Israel as a faithful nation will be grafted back into their elect position when Christ returns (Rom 11:23-32), the church as an institution will not be cut off from the election. Compare Isa 54:1 and context with Gal 4:30 and context, and observe that the faithful in Israel and the faithful in the church are predestined to be one and the same bride people. That is obviously what we see in Rom 11; Heb 3; 11; 12; et al.
      As we study Gal 3, Heb 3, and 11 with the many similar passages dealing with the cardinal doctrines of the Bible, especially the covenant promises of all the covenants, we will recognize that they all lead to the divine oneness with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for all the faithful covenant people from Adam on through the seventh millennium.
      The olive branches that were broken off were not unsaved people. They were believers just like we are, but who made shipwreck of faith as we are solemnly and repeatedly warned not to do. However, we will continue to show that we also can fall and thereby be cut off out of the election (from the firstborn sonship) even though we are now scripturally standing within that holy "calling."
      These olive branches were properly in the olive tree, just as we have been scripturally grafted into the cultured (covenant) olive tree. These branches were properly in the olive tree. They were believers in the God of Abraham, but were seeking to establish their own righteousness. They were properly in the election, but made shipwreck of faith and fell out of that holy calling. We are warned of this snare, trap, or stumbling block again and again, Jn 15:1-6; Rom 11:11-22; 1Co 9:27 thru 10:12; Gal 4:21 thru 5:5; 1Ti 1:18-20; Heb 3:6-19; 6:4-8; 10:25-31; Heb 12:1-29; 2Pe 1:5-10; 3:16-17; 2Jn 9; Rev 3:14-20; et al.


      The Jews in the time of Christ were believers in God, and therefore saved as we normally used the word "saved." However, they were missing the mark with regard to covenant salvation. We hope to have considerable to write on saved people outside the church and outside the covenants after we finish these articles on the firstborn sonship of Christ.

1. When were the olive branches broken off?

      The rejection of Israel as a nation obviously took place over a period of time, beginning with the baptism of John.John refused to baptize the leaders of the Jews Mt 3:7-12, and this was the beginning phase of the rejection of Israel as a nation, as well as the beginning of Israel's rejection of Christ and the New Covenant. The crucifixion of Christ by the nation was the climax of the national rejection of Christ, and was equally God's rejection of Israel as a nation in favorable covenant standing. Israel, as the covenant nation, is now under bitter covenant punishment, with the church grafted into the covenant stock of Abraham. The breaking off of the olive tree branches continued after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

2. Baptized Disciples Who Forsook Christ.

      66 "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more," Jn 6:66.
      These were obviously saved and baptized disciples, who, like many today, were not able to endure "sound doctrine""the doctrine of Christ," 2Jn 9-11; 2Ti 4:3-4; Jn 8:30-32. Many Landmark Baptists today are converting to and are accepting the pseudo universal church theory, which says that all believers are in the body and bride of Christ.

3. Believers Who Were Afraid of Religious Powers That Be.

      42 "Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;
      43 "For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God," Jn 12:42-43.
      Nicodemus (Jn 3) and Joseph Arimathea (Jn 19:38) were among these, but appear to have improved later. However, there obviously were some like this who believed but did not confess Christ publicly. See below.

4. Many, Many Thousands Baptized by John and Jesus, Mt 3:5-6; Mk 1:4-5; Jn 4:1-2.

      John and Jesus baptized many thousands of people according to the passages indicated above. What happened to all of them? Only about one hundred twenty received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Act 1:15.