Salvation: God’s Scattering and Gathering: Part I
The Display of God’s Covenantal Faithfulness

Introduction: The five-part series: Salvation: God’s Scattering and Gathering examines redemption from the aspects of cleansing via scattering and blessing via gathering. The two are linked and mutually dependent. This is done for God’s glory and the good of the people.

Several redemptive motifs are evident throughout Scripture. They express God’s faithfulness and redemptive activity as Judge – scattering – and as Savior – gathering. Redemption can be expressed as Salvation: God’s scattering and gathering. God as just Judge scatters His people and as their loving Father He gathers them. The motifs including scattering and gathering link and demonstrate the bad news and the good news of salvation. Salvation is through God’s scattering and gathering of His people.

Other redemptive motifs include grief and joy, defeat and victory, exile and exodus, and judgment and restoration> All of these in someway reinforce God’s activity of scatter and gather. Scripture elaborates on these motifs throughout the Old Testament, often in narrative form, and during Jesus’ earthly ministry. The writers of the epistles bring this concept full circle in the context of the Church (John 16:20-24; Ephesians 2:11-15; Hebrews 12:18-24; 1 Peter 2:4-10). God’s redemptive program includes: salvation: God’s scattering and gathering.

These phrases are pithy summaries that highlight the Bible’s various presentations of God’s redemptive remedy for His people. His people throughout the ages are the God-intended humanity of Genesis 1 as summarized in Genesis 1:31: …God saw all that he had made and it was very good.….God placed Adam and Eve, mankind, in the Garden which was a type of the Holy of Holies. Sinless Adam and Eve were in the presence of God and they did not die. There was no sin. Salvation: God’s scattering and gathering was not an issue.

When sin entered the world, God judged mankind through Adam as the federal head of all mankind (Romans 5:12-14, 15-21). What had been very good became very bad – separation from a holy, just God as His unholy rebel and enemy. They lost friendship and intimacy with God. In response to their changed relationship they covered themselves and ran and attempted to hide from God (Genesis 3:7-8). They wanted to put a great distance between them and God. They sought to erect an invincible barrier. They were confused, rebellious, and ignorant in terms of their sense of evil, their condition, and solution. They had knowledge of sin and themselves as sinners but not as they ought.  The had knowledge of God but they did not know Him as He is and as they ought. After questioning them and hearing their answers, God announced judgment and salvation – He would save a people for himself (Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:20). They were not worthy of His presence and they were exiled – scattered from the Garden and God’s presence. God’s gathering of His people was reversed as He scattered them. The motif of salvation: God’s scattering and gathering had begun.

We assume that God restored himself to Adam and Eve as given in Genesis 3:15-19 and that they were saved. After hearing the sentence of death coupled with God’s promise of life, Adam named his wife Eve, the mother of all the living (3:20). Apparently after offering sacrifices, God clothed them with animal skins. Yet there would be consequences of Adam’s rebellion against God. As believers, they were exiled – separated and scattered from God’s presence (3:22-24).

After expulsion from the Garden and as a sign of faith, they named their first child Cain in anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promise – a type of gathering (4:1). However, misery, condemnation, and death had entered the world and only God’s supernatural intervention could bring about a change of direction and condition of mankind (Romans  5:12-14; 6:23). Salvation: God’s scattering and gathering paints a vivid picture: scattering preceded gathering.

God’s people are His from all eternity but His eternal plan takes shape in the life of nations and individuals. Redemptive history unfolds the working out of God’s plan begun in eternity past (John 6:37-43; Ephesians 1:4). The various motifs mentioned above provide insight into God’s eternal plan to be the God of His people and for the people to be His people. God took the initiative per His design. He is still taking the initiative in bringing people into His kingdom. This redemptive movement – God’s salvation: scattering and gathering – will continue until Jesus returns.

From eternity past, God desired a people to be in His presence forever. Sin and the initial exile of Adam and Eve from His presence did not change God’s plan. One major theme of the Pentateuch is God opening a way for His people to come into His presence for fellowship and worship. The above motifs provide insight into God’s original plan of opening the way. The way began in the Garden after the fall. Continued bliss, fellowship, and intimacy would have continued between God and the first parents and between Adam and Eve if Adam had proved himself to be covenantally faithful. Adam was covenantally unfaithful and God exiled Adam and Eve from the Garden. The exile was a descent of man from God. It was an exodus/exit in the wrong direction. Yet sin and sinners do not deter God from his original plan. In fact, God was working out his plan of salvation: scattering and gathering – as he exiled Adam and Eve. Redemptive history demonstrates that God’s covenantal faithfulness continues until Christ comes.

The above motifs fit best into redemptive history from a covenantal perspective. God covenanted with himself in eternity past to save a people for himself (see John 6:37-43; 17:1-5, 24-26; Ephesians. 2:18; 3:12). Salvation is the activity of the Triune God. The Father saves in and through the Son and by the Holy Spirit. The Triune God is the Promise-maker and Promise-keeper par excellence. He is Creator, Controller, Judge, Father, Deliverer, and Savior. He is trustworthy and He deserves mankind’s full attention and worship.

The motif of scattering and gathering illustrates man’s sinfulness and God’s trustworthiness as manifested by His justice, mercy, and love. Evidence of scattering and gathering began in heaven and in the Garden. Actually the fallen angels were scattered – exiled from God’s presence with no opportunity or hope of redemption. Adam and all mankind were exiled from the Garden and the direct, intimate presence of God. But God remembered His eternal covenant and proclaimed the promise and hope of restoration.

The Triune God is the Scatterer of those who rebel against Him. Initially the rebels were Adam and Eve but redemptive history demonstrates that God is the Scatterer of Israel and all the nations of the universe because they fail to trust and obey. In part, God’s activity of scattering summarizes the bad news of the gospel. Yet there is hope and help for rebels as the above motifs demonstrate. God scatters and rightfully so. But He is the Gatherer as well. His gathering activity summarizes the good news. If there had been no scattering, there would be no gathering.

1. Scan the whole of redemptive history from Genesis to Revelation: what is your impression of God’s control of his universe?
2. God is the only eternal Being. Salvation was ordained to bring a people into his presence. What is significant about that fact?
3. Scattering was necessitated for what reason? Gathering was necessitated for what reason?

Salvation: God’s Scattering and Gathering: Part II

The second part in the series: Salvation: God’s Scattering and Gathering addresses God’s initial activity of scattering came with the promise of gathering (Genesis 3:15). Always covenantally-faithful, God is the Maker and Keeper of His promises. God’s purpose and design from all eternity was to bring a people into His presence for His glory and joyful fellowship with His people. God exiled Adam and Eve, and with them all mankind was scattered but with a remarkable promise of gathering (Genesis 3:15). The cost of gathering would be monumental and supernatural. A cosmic battle as well as an individual war within each person was underway. The way of victory was decided and proclaimed by God: the Seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent – victory (Genesis 3:15; Romans 15:33; 16:20). Victory is evidenced as men and women, formerly God’s enemies, bow the knee to a good, powerful, and purposeful God. They enter into God’s presence as His children.

However, post-fall and in spite of God’s promise, mankind had no desire or will to honor God – only self (Genesis 6:5-6; 8:21; Romans 3:9-19; 8:5-8). In order for God to gather His people a change in man must occur and it does as part of God’s plan. God saved a remnant. Noah found favor with God – he was graced by God for God (6:8). The Flood was a type of scattering but without any hope of return or gathering except for eight people. All others were judged as unworthy and given over to damnation. The Triune God is an awesome God. History proclaims that fact loud and clear if one consults the Bible.

The Bible continued to paint a vivid picture of God the Scatterer and the Gatherer of the true Israel. God takes himself seriously and so should His people. In the second commandment God declared himself to be a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). The word translated jealous is a powerful word with relational and protective overtones. The idea of ownership comes to the fore which requires complete devotion and allegiance. The Holy Spirit used this word to describe the Triune God. Among other aspects, the word highlights the truth that God deserves to be worshipped and glorified. In the second commandment, God demands no competition which is His exclusive right. He protects His own glory and He will not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8; 48:9-11). God opposed and opposes idolatry and idolaters. He deserves and wants all of every person and the Church. God maintains his Honor and glory. His jealousy includes a zeal for himself and His people. God scatters both His enemies and His children, but He always gathers His children and brings them to His bosom.

The reality of rebellious Israel dots the pages of Scripture in the Old and New Testaments. God’s chosen people were not interested in honoring God in thought, desire, and deed. They were busy honoring themselves. They were a rebellious, prophet-killing nation. However, God continued the offer of salvation and fellowship with Him conditioned upon repentance and its fruit. The call for repentance runs throughout the Old and New Testaments. The way of repentance was God’s means to gather His people. However, too many people have ears but don’t hear, and eyes but don’t see.

The statement regarding God as the Scatterer is confined to the prophetic books except for the book of Deuteronomy (4:27; 28:64; 30:3). Israel experienced the reality of God’s scattering in the Assyrian (722 B.C) and Babylonian (586 B.C.) exiles. In each case scattering and gathering is presented as conditional. In Deuteronomy 4:25-27 and 28:1-2, 15, Moses gave clear instructions: corruption in the form of self-worship through idol worship brings judgment and scattering. The offer of judgment carried a warning which should have been hope-engendering. If Israel seeks the Lord, God promised to be found. He wasn’t the problem! Israel was. He was never far off from His people. In the wilderness, all the people witnessed God’s faithfulness but only a remnant was brought into the Promised Land. They alone trusted God.

In Deuteronomy 30 the same truth is presented. Taking God’s word to heart brings restoration – blessings, peace, and security (30:1-3). God promised to gather the Israelites from where He scattered them (30:4-5). Moreover God promised to circumcise their hearts so that love of God and love of neighbor would be a heart-bound and demonstrated reality. The two – scattering and gathering – are linked with promises of judgment and restoration. They are intended to bring an inside-out change in His people. Left to self, Israel would have no place in God’s presence. Israel would be exiled forever. God took the initiative in bringing a people to himself.

1. What is your impression of the God who scatters and gathers?
2. What was Israel’s problem?
3. How did scattering help to correct the problem?
4. How does the Prodigal son fit this motif: Luke 15:11-32? How does Luke 15:17-18 help you understand and appreciate the gathering and scattering motif?

God’s Covenantal Faithfulness: Part III

I continue the series: Salvation: God’s Scattering and Gathering as a prime example of God’s covenantal faithfulness. The Major Prophets continued the theme of salvation: scattering and gathering. A major theme of the book of Isaiah is a trust and worship issue: who will Israel trust and worship. Israel had two choices: self or God. Israel trusted in their ability to worship as they defined worship and to whom and how they should worship. They chose self and made idols – physical objects – according to their own image. God judged them and was preparing to scatter them. In the midst of the bad news, God promised that he would gather his people (1:11-17; 2:11, 17, 21; 10:20, 27; 11:10-11; 25:9; 26:1; 27:1-2, 12-13). The book of Isaiah can be roughly divided into two parts. Chapters 1-35 speak of God’s judgment and scattering. Chapters 40-66 offer restoration and gathering.

God promised to return the people to Israel and to the Promise Land post-exile. He promised freedom from captivity – gathering. They refused to acknowledge these facts both physically and spiritually. They missed the point that the promised exile and captivity and the promised return from it pointed to Christ and his first coming. Christ would usher in the kingdom of God and prepare the people for a new exodus. God’s people would be brought out of bondage, ignorance, arrogance, idolatry, and self-pleasing and placed in proper relationship with the Triune God. The coming of Christ pointed to the great and final exodus when God would take his people with him forever (Isa. 40:3-5; 41:17-20; 43:1-3, 16:21). Isaiah repeated the refrain of Salvation: Scattering and Gathering. There is scattering because of Israel’s attack on God and there will be gathering of the remnant of Israel because of God’s faithfulness and mercy. Again the people refused to see and hear because they had no spiritual “eyes.”

Jeremiah warned Jerusalem that it was not invincible (see chapters 7 and 26). Judgment – scattering and exile –  was coming unless the nation repented. Jeremiah encouraged the people to bow the knee to God, but they did not listen to him. His message was one of judgement – scattering – but also one of hope and restoration via the promise of gathering (1:9-10; 9:16; 10:21; 11:29; 13:24; 18:17; 29:10; 30:11-17; 31:31-34; 32:15; 46:28). The message of God’s activity of Salvation: Scattering and Gathering and God’s reasoning were proclaimed to Israel by the prophet. Still, they did not listen to him thereby rejecting not only Jeremiah but God. In the end, God exiled His people (Babylonian exile) but He was true to His promise of gathering His people. After 70 years God brought His people into a physical land. The majority missed the point. They viewed the return only physically but their return pointed to true kingdom of God. Jeremiah pointed to the new covenant and its fulfillment in and by the greater David and the true kingdom, Jesus Christ. Christ’s coming brought the kingdom of God via a relationship with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

Ezekiel wrote that he lived among a rebellious people (12:1-2). This was an apt description of Israel. In verse 3, Ezekiel was told to be ready for exile – scattering. In verse 11, Ezekiel wrote: ..They will go into exile as captives. God used foreign nations as His scattering agents and as His humbling tool (see v.14). The reason given for God’s scattering is found in verse 15: They will know that I am the Lord when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries (see Ezekiel 34:11-14; 36:19, 24). Ezekiel was repeating God’s message given to His servant Moses, to Israel, and to the whole world when Israel was in bondage in Egypt. Throughout chapters 4-12 in the book of Exodus, Moses recorded the refrain that the people of Israel and Egypt would know that God was God (Exodus 6:7; 7:5; 8:20). Before Pharaoh, all of Egypt, and all Israel, God remarkably demonstrated that that He was God. Through the miraculous signs (plagues) God demonstrated that He was King, Creator, and Controller.

God’s Salvation: scattering and gathering has a similar purpose as did the ten miracles (plagues) in Egypt. Both Jews and Egyptians were to know that God is God. None of the Egyptians, and only a small group of Israelites understood and acknowledged that fact. God’s call to come to him is universal as He brings in those from all tribes and nations but only a few will come (Matthew 22:14). Salvation: Scattering and Gathering are descriptive of the wisdom of the Triune God.

God’s desire and design to be honored and reverenced fits the words of the first three commandments. God is for himself and His people. He is “cleaning them up” and making them acceptable before Him. No one can enter into God’s presence and live except Christ and those who are in Christ. The one who enters into God’s presence are those with a changed heart and a desire for God and the things of God (Psalms 15:1-3; 24:3-4). Becoming more like Christ individually and collectively is a summary statement of what God requires and provides in His Son by the Holy Spirit. In part, becoming more Christ in thought, desire, and deed, is accomplished through the motif of scattering and gathering. In and of themselves no one deserves or is able to be in God’s presence and live, let alone enjoy God. God has kept His promise of bringing a people to himself by providing the way into His presence – it is through His Son by the Holy Spirit.

1. Consider the biblical refrain of scattering and gathering: what does it teach you about God and his people?
2. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel lived among a rebellious people. What motivated them to preach, prophesize and preserve?
3. Jesus Christ was the fulfilment of God’s scattering and gathering. Read Romans 1:18-23 and 1 Corinthians 1:18-23 and record how they continue the themes of scattering and gathering?

Salvation: God’s Scattering and Gathering: Part IV
The Display of God’s Covenantal Faithfulness

A prominent and recurring theme in redemptive history is the coupling of doom and gloom with hope, newness, and prosperity – the bad news and the good news: salvation: scattering and gathering. This theme begins redemptive history in the Garden and continually resurfaces throughout the Old Testament (Genesis 3:15). It is more fully explained in the New Testament. God through His prophets confronted rebellious people. They called the people to repent and to come to a true knowledge of and desire for God.

After sin, God’s judgment and the continued rebellion of the people, God could have sent another flood in order to wipe out a rebellious people and institute a cosmic rebirth. However, God is the Promise-maker and Promise-keeper par excellence. He would be faithful to himself (Genesis 9:8-17). He would remember His promise to himself to bring a people to himself. However, God did not and could overlook Adam’s and Israel’s rebellion. If He did, He would be less than the God of the Bible. Such an action would eviscerate the truth and reality of the cross.

Through the prophets, God continued to reveal and implement His redemptive plan of opening a way into His presence. Knowledge was meant as an encouragement. His people must learn the lesson of Leviticus 10:10-11 and Leviticus 16. Holiness was and is required to be in God’s presence and live (11:44-45; 29:2; 20:7. 26; 21:8, 15; 22:9, 16, 32; 1 Peter 1:15-16).

Israel had to be gripped by God’s holiness and their un-holiness or scattering would continue. The lesson: salvation: scattering and gathering was hard for Israel. They wanted the blessings without the discipline – scattering. Leviticus 16 depicted in vivid form the major keys for the implementation of God’s eternal plan: a privileged high priest who was cleansed and pure to enter the Most Holy Place and offer a fragrant sacrifice pleasing to God. This once-a- year action pointed to Jesus Christ (Hebrews 6:13-20; 9:11-14; 10:19-22);

Several of the Minor Prophets pick up on the theme: salvation: scattering and gathering. Hosea was written largely to the northern kingdom. The theme was simple: Israel was an adulterer – an idolater. God will punish her via the Assyrian exile but in time, God would restore His people. Hosea proclaimed the reasons for salvation: scattering and gathering (2:16-17; 8:13-14; 9:3; 11:1-11; 12:9, 13; 13:4-6, 14). Hosea repeated a key fact of God: He is the covenant-making and covenant-keeping God who desires His children to honor Him. He will take care of His people. Israel did not get it! They were scattered but a remnant was gathered. God does not lose His people. Salvation: scattering and gathering highlight God’s way.

Micah prophesied against the northern and southern kingdoms. Both were rebellious and whorish. God brought a lawsuit against the leaders and the people. The entire universe was to observe God’s sovereign activity (1:1-2). The Lord is coming was a phrase that described God’s providential intervention in his world that is generally called history (1:3). History describes the unfolding of God’s original design from eternity past. It includes salvation: scattering and gathering. In chapters 1-3, Micah describes God’s judgment on a rebellious people – scattering. He quickly moves to the promise of deliverance in chapters 4 and 5 – gathering (4:1-10 and 5:2-5). It is noteworthy that Matthew’s genealogy of Christ as given in Matthew 1:11-12, 17 indicates that the exile is not over until the advent of Christ (Micah 7:14-20). The coming of Christ represented the initiation of the new exodus – Christ’s resurrection – and Christ as the new and greater Moses. God gathers His people in spite of them in order to change them and because of who He is.

Zechariah is one of the post-exilic prophets. Zechariah foretold Christ’s coming, the building of the Lord’s temple, His reign, and His rejection for 30 pieces of silver (6:12-13; 9:10, 14; 11:12-13). A major theme of the book is similar to the theme of the book of Revelation: God’s sovereign control over history – people and events, salvation: scattering and gathering. Chapter one begins with the dual theme of scattering and gathering as he cites the covenant-breaking history of the forefathers. He urged the present generation to return to me and I will return to you (1:2-6; 7:13). Chapter 2 verses 6-12 and chapter 10 verses 6-12 record a promise and prophecy of God gathering the elect – the remnant of His people (see Mark 13:27 for a New Testament application).

The twin themes of salvation: scattering and gathering are redemptive motifs and one way to understand God’s redemptive remedy for His people. The Old Testament pointed to the second coming of the second Adam, the true Israel, and the true Temple – Jesus Christ. Jesus makes that claim in Matthew 12:6, 41-42; John 2:19-22 (Acts 17:24). Upon His coming God’s yes was yes in Christ as prophesied by the prophets of old and John the Baptist, the penultimate prophet (2 Corinthians 1:20-22). God’s message was established and it has remained the same throughout the redemptive history. The fullness of the Holy Spirit enables believers to rejoice in God’s redemptive plan. In Jesus’ time, Israel failed as did her forefathers. She killed the prophets and ultimately the Prophet Jesus Christ. Another scattering occurred as a result of Israel’s unrepentance and rejection of Christ. Jerusalem fell in 70 A.D never to be raised to its former glory again. Now both Gentiles and Jews are true Jews and are gathering as the new Israel and in the new kingdom which is Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:11-15).

1. Review the short survey of God’s faithfulness under the theme of scatter and gather. What do you learn?
2. If you focus on scatter only what may be your conclusion?
3. If you focus on gather only what may be your conclusion?
4. How you bring this concept of scatter and gather into the New Testament? What should individual believers and the Church learn from God’s covenantal faithfulness?
5. In the area of covenantal faithfulness, how was Jesus, the Son like his Father? How does your answer fit John 10:30?

Salvation: The Display of God’s Covenantal Faithfulness: Part V

God’s activity of scattering and gathering will be culminated when Jesus returns. John opened his gospel with a declaration that Jesus is God and His redemptive work as Messiah is representative of the Triune God’s eternal plan (1:1-5). Jesus was and is Light and Light came to his people who were and were in darkness. His people had been scattered and where waiting for the gathering. However, the people interpreted the messiah and his activity in physical terms. Like their forefathers they missed the point. They looked for a physical gathering. They refused to hear and obey, and acknowledge and accept their spiritual bondage and Christ’s ministry. For their rebellion, they were exiled – scattered – in 70 A.D.

Israel’s rebellion did not deter God from covenantal faithfulness. He was calling His people into the kingdom. Such was the message of the final two prophets, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15). Jesus was gathering His obstinate children (Matthew. 23:37-38; Luke 13:34-35). The message of gathering reached a new height as recorded in Matthew 28:16-20. In this closing scene, Matthew opened the window so all would see God’s covenantal faithfulness in action. The resurrected Lord is standing before the apostles on the mount and giving them instructions. Jesus inaugurates a truly new age in which Jesus exercises universal authority but through men and via the Holy Spirit.

Matthew carefully crafted the above portion of Scripture (Matthew 28:18-20). It is the climax of his gospel and contains an important key to understanding his message in part salvation: scattering and gathering. In it Jesus proclaims His Kingly authority and His right to use it His way (v.18). In verse 19, Jesus functioned as Prophet when He commissioned the apostles to make disciples. He sent them as His agents to gather His children, the remnant. Truth and the Holy Spirit would bring His people into the kingdom. In verse 20, as High Priest, He guaranteed His presence forever. Jesus is the gathering point and reason for His people and not some physical locale such as a mountain, city, or temple (see John 4:20-24 for Jesus’ teaching on the true presence and worship of God). As we pointed out previously, Jesus is the new Israel, the true Temple, and the greater David, Moses, Solomon, and Jonah.

The call to go to all nations had been long anticipated but formerly prohibited (Matthew 8:11; 12:21; 10:5f; 15:24-28). The mission to the Gentiles was about to begin in earnest which is the subject of the book of Acts. Paul is to be the key figure in the ministry to the Gentiles. Paul wrote that the gospel message had reached “all over the world” (Colossians 1:6, 23). He was speaking of the known world, but the job was getting done!! God was making good on His promise. The motif of Salvation: scattering and gathering took place as God’s move from Jerusalem. This scattering was less a result of their sins.

In the book of Romans Paul wrote than God’s design was a forever one. God always included Gentiles as His remnant and His people. In fact, the scattering of ethnic Israel would continue as a mean of bringing (gathering) Gentiles into the kingdom (Romans 11:25-27). Scattering will always be part of God’s plan to bring people into the kingdom and to punish His enemies in this world and the next. Salvation: gathering and gathering is a twofold project.

For God’s people, their eventual gathering is linked to scattering. Scattering is always a result of covenantal unfaithfulness by God’s people but of God’s covenantal faithfulness. In that sense God’s people follow Adam’s example in the Garden. Post-fall, orientation to trust self took center stage. For the believer, he has been changed such that he is able to properly choose and to trust God. However, as a nation and as individuals, God’s people often functioned as if God was not trustworthy and trusting self was the best recourse. Control was the issue. A low view of God and a high view of self in various forms will continue until Jesus returns. The low view of God and high view of self in believers  and underlies one reason for God’s use of scattering and gathering.

The epistles bring home the truth that the Triune God is gathering His children. Paul gives this picture in Ephesians 2:11-15. Paul presents two ethnic groups, Jews and Gentiles, losers in their own right but both denying that fact. They are being gathered because Jesus is their peace and He has destroyed personal lawkeeping as a means to God (v.14-15). The two are one thus emphasizing God’s gathering. Scattering, at least as a means of humbling and instructing, will continue unto God has finished calling His number. Salvation: scattering and gathering summarized so much of redemptive history!

As Paul closed the book of Galatians (6:14-16), Paul emphasized that the true Israel is not according to the flesh – what a Jew or Gentile can do in their power and understanding (6:15). The true Israel was the new creation – Jews and Gentiles, the Church – which had been forged in the crucible of scattering and gathering. Paul referred to the new Israel as those who depend on Christ’s lawkeeping through saving faith by the Holy Spirit. They have put off depending on their own lawkeeping through non-saving, ignorant, and arrogant faith (6:15-16).

Paul’s closing verses could be considered a commentary on Jesus’ words recorded in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 16:13-20). God’s Church is His people for the people. Entrance into the kingdom of God is often via the Church. Some consider the two synonymous. No matter. The preservation and the perseverance of the Church and God’s people, His saints, occurs because God is covenantal faithful, first to himself and then to His people. God’s perseverance is the reason for the believer’s and the Church’s perseverance. The motif of salvation: scattering and gathering is one description of God’s activity in bringing a people into his eternal presence and separating the chaff and the wheat.

1. As you look through the pages of Bible and your own life, what do you see and think?
2. Read Matthew 16-20 then answer:
a. Do you envision a Kingly crucified and resurrected Savor at the place of preeminence engaged in heaven actively by interceding for his people (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25)?
b. Do you envision the indwelling Holy Spirit who is the true heart surgeon extraordinaire and who equips his people and his Church with spiritual truth?
3. What do you need to change I terms of your view of God and self in order to growth and change?