Pastor Bob (15 June 2014)
""Dispensationalism -1""


Any person who trusts in the Blood of Jesus Christ rather than bringing an annual sacrifice or any person who observes the first day of the week rather than the Sabbath is a Dispensationalist!  That has to shock anyone that attacks Dispensationalism. 

Christians for the most part do not understand what Dispensationalism really is and yet they attempt to attack it without little substance or knowing what it really is.  They think of it as something to do with the Scofield reference Bible.  I don't have a copy of Scofield's Bible.  I recently checked Amazon and of the hundreds of books on the topic, 95% of the titles listed attack Dispensationalism.  That tells me a lot. 

Any understanding of it must understand that salvation is by grace through faith in every dispensation, found in the Bible.  The essence of Dispensationalism is that God dealt with His creation in different ways during in each of the "seven" dispensations.

Dispensationalism is actually a multifacted system of thought.  Dispensationalists believe the following:

1.  The Bible is God's inspired and inerrant revelation to mankind.  Scripture provides the framework through which we interpret the past, present, and the future.  God's written Word tells us of His Plan for His creation, and His Plan will surely come to fulfillment.

2.  Because the Bible is God's literal Word and His Plan for history [His-Story], we should interpret it literally.

3.  The Bible reveals God's Plan for history.  God's Plan includes different dispensations, ages, or epochs of history through which He tests His creatures (humans and angels).  God is instructing His creatures through history as His creation progresses from the Garden of Eden to the Heavenly City.

4.  All humanity fell into sin, so each person must individually receive God's provision for salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by believing and trusting in the Gospel.  Thus, Jesus Christ is the only way to a relationship with God.

5.  Scripture teaches that because of mankind's fall into sin, all humanity is naturally rebellious toward God and the things of God.  This is why genuine believers in Christ Jesus are open to the teachings of the Bible.  Thus, salvation through Christ Jesus is a prerequisite to properly understand God's Word.

6.  God's Plan for history includes a purpose for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - that is, the Nation of Israel.  This Plan for Israel includes promises that they will have the land of Israel, they will have a seed, and they will be a worldwide blessing to the nations.  Many of the promises to National Israel are still yet to be fulfilled. Therefore, God is not finished with Israel.

7.  God's Plan from all eternity past until the close also includes a purpose for the Church.  However, this is a temporary phase that will end with the Rapture.  After the Rapture, God will complete His Plan for Israel and the Gentiles remaining.

8.  God's main purpose in His Master Plan for history is to glorify Himself  through Jesus Christ.  Therefore, Jesus Christ is the goal and hero of history.

Someone posted a statement last time, "Dispensationalism is neither here nor there.  That's because dispensationalism is sectarianism, thinly disguised."  Actually, whether that remark was intended as a 'noun' or and 'adjective', is in fact, irrelevant, since the term is Biblical.  The term "dispensation" "oikonomia" is a means by which God uses to provide the believer with a Biblical World View.  This is central to a Christian's understanding of his or her world.  The term is found four times in the New Testament.  In fact, the Greek word above is found elsewhere and used in different renderings as well.  First, the four uses of the word "dispensation" are found in Paul's Epistles. 

1.  1 Corinthians 9:17 - "For of I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the Gospel is committed unto me."

2.  Ephesians 1:10 - "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:"

3.  Ephesians 3:2 - "If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward."

4.  Colossians 1:25 - "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God."

As I stated, "dispensationalism" provides us a Biblical World View of history [His-Story].  It helps us develop a worldview for living in accordance with God's will.  A believer who has a divine perspective of the past, present, and future is thus able to know what God expects of him in every area of life in this present day.

In the current Church Age or Age of Grace, the New Testament teaches us how to live privately and publicly.  Dispensationalists, for example, do not live in this Age of Grace as if we were still under the rule of the Mosaic Law.  Instead, we understand that we are now under what the New Testament defines and calls the Law of Christ -(1 Corinthians 9:11; Galatians 6:2).  Current dispensational obligations combined with responsiblities from previous ages provide a New Testament believer with a complete Biblical framework for understanding how to relate to God, to please God in every area of our life.  Covenant/Reformed theology does not provide the believer a proper Biblical World View, which is absolutely essential for living the Christian life. 

Dispensationalism is not the majority view within the universal church; however, it is, as I stated, Biblical and it can be identified throughout the Bible.  Case in point, Covenant/Reformed theology identifies basically, 2 covenants in the Bible, the Old and the New.  This is contrary to the Word of God and a gross over-simplification of the Word of God, whereas, God has revealed "seven" dispensations.  The Bible defines "eight" covenants and not "two" as Covenant/Reformed theology and churches teach.

        1.  Innocence
        2.  Conscience
        3.  Human Government
        4.  Promise
        5.  Law
        6.  Grace or the Church Age
        7.  Kingdom

In the next post we will identify the outworking of God's Master Plan with humanity.  Charles Ryrie suggests, "Dispensationalism views the world as a household run by God, in this household - world God is dispensing or administering its affairs according to His own will and in various stages of revelation in the process of time.  These stages mark off the distinguishably different economies in the outworking of His total purpose, and these economies are the dispensations.  The understanding of God's different economies is essential for a proper interpretation of His revelation within those various economies."

I previously noted the four uses of the word "dispensation" in Scripture.  The same Greek word also appears in Luke 16:2; 16:3; and 16:4, but is rendered in English as "stewardship".  On two other occasions in Ephesians 3:9 and 1 Timothy 1:4 it is rendered "administration"  The word "oikenomia" is derived from the word "oikos" (house) and "nemo", (to deal out) or (to administer).

Those opposed to "Dispensationalism" misconstrue the understanding of what it means.  'Vine's comment is appropriate:  "A Dispensation is not a period or epoch (a common, but erroneous, use of the word) but rather a mode of dealing with, an arrangement or administrator of affairs" .  -('Vine's Expository Dictionary).

To understand the Plan and Obectives of God throughout the ages, one must see the difference and relationship between a "dispensation" and a "covenant".  A "dispensation" is a temporary period of time based on a conditional test to determine if humanity will be faithful to the conditions of God.  Scofield defined a "dispensation" as "a period of time during which man is tested in respect to some specific revelation of the will of God".  According to Charles Ryrie "A dispensation is a distinguishable economy in the outworking of God's purpose.  If one were describing a dispensation he would include other things, such as the idea of distinctive revelation, testing, failure and judgment."  Humanity has failed these various testings, and thus, each dispensation ended in judgment.

A Biblical covenant is an eternal agreement God makes with mankind, revealing what He will do for humanity.  God made "seven" covenants with humanity, not "two" as Covenant/Reformed theology state, throughout history.  Each covenant reveals principles by which God will relate to man.  Man has the "free will" to reject the covenant or principles of God, but when he violates the covenant, he suffers the consequences.

There are certain essentials of "Dispensationalism", and these distinctions are largely between Israel and the Church.  This comes out of the dispensationalist's consistent employment of normal or plain or historical-grammatical interpretation of the basic purpose of God in all His dealing with humanity as that of glorifying Himself through salvation and other purposes as well.  Personal salvation is not the primary purpose of God, as most people seem to think.  First and foremost, the primary purpose of God is to bring His own Glorification.  You will find this fact out by reading the entire Bible.  God leaves no doubt in the reader's mind, God wants ALL the glory!  If you doubt it, I can identify as many as 80 passages of Scripture that explicitly state such.  This is the purpose of worship.

Keep watching and listening for the trumpet call!

Pastor Bob