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At Pentecost did everyone who trusted the Lord, who put their faith in Him during His public teaching and healing, become members of the Church at Pentecost, even though they were not present on that occasion?

I think it is safe to say that all who believed and died prior to the Day of Pentecost are not in the Church which is His Body. This would include the repentant robber on the cross. All, however, who believed during our Lord’s ministry and were living after this unique event are certainly in the Church. Are we to assume that those who were saved through the Lord’s preaching and who lived some years after Pentecost were not in the Body? For example, if not all, then certainly many of these believers would be in local church fellowship. It is difficult to imagine them in a local church but not in the Church which is His Body!

The fact that some of them may not have been there when the Holy Spirit descended does not mean that they missed out on the event. If those who believed at the time of the Lord’s earthly ministry are not part of the Body of Christ then we have a situation of a separate group of believers existing after Pentecost. If this were the case how should we describe them? No, those who were saved during the Lord’s life on earth, I take it, were baptised in the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. We too, as believers today, were not present at Pentecost. Does this mean we have lost out? While we were not there, the moment we were saved we came into the good of what happened. What about the 120 disciples in Acts 1 and Mary the mother of Jesus and His brethren? Were they all there on the Day of Pentecost? We are not told, but it is possible that some of them were. If this was the case, are we to conclude that they would not have shared in the outpouring of the Spirit and that therefore they are not members of the Church?

John J Stubbs

The "remnant according to the election of grace" (Rom 11.5) – does this include the Messianic Jews of today who acknowledge that the Lord Jesus is the Messiah?

Paul, in the opening verse of the chapter, poses the question: "Hath God cast away (off) his people (i.e. Israel)?". The answer is an unequivocal "God forbid" - "By no means". The point is that although, in one sense, God has cast off His people for we read of "the casting away of them" (v.15), nevertheless, this does not mean that He has rejected every individual Israelite. Paul sees in himself a living proof of what he has stated; he was "an Israelite indeed".

In further support of his claim that God had not cast off Israel completely and that there was indeed a remnant, Paul takes up the case of Elijah when he pleaded with God against Israel. Note that although Elijah made "intercession to God against Israel" (v.2), Paul prayed for them: "Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved" (Rom 10.1). The disheartened prophet saw himself alone faithful in that dark period of Israel’s history. However, God graciously gave answer to Elijah, "I have reserved to myself seven thousand men (a complete remnant), who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal" (11.4). The words of this verse are taken from the Hebrew of 1 Kings 19.18 with the addition of "to myself".

In view of what the Lord had shown to be the case in the days of Elijah, Paul is better able to understand the ways of God with the nation in his day - "Even so then at this present time…". The "remnant according to the election of grace" can only be the aggregate of believing Jews in this whole period of grace. Individual Jews have dissociated themselves from the national unbelief and have made a confession of Jesus as Lord. These believing Israelites ought not to be called "Hebrew Christians" but simply "Christians", exactly like believing Gentiles with whom they form the Church in which there is neither Jew nor Gentile.

God does not choose this remnant on the basis of their works, but by His sovereign electing grace: "And if by grace, then is it no more of works" (v.6). Thus the "remnant according to the election of grace" does not simply include the Messianic Jews of today who acknowledge that the Lord Jesus is the Messiah, they are the remnant.

David E West

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