Dispensationalism - What we Believe ~

Joined: 7:11 AM - Dec 02, 2008

12:13 AM - Aug 02, 2010 #1

MAJOR BIBLE THEMES, written by Lewis Sperry Chafer
CHAPTER XVIII
THE DISPENSATIONS

As to time, the Bible may be apportioned into well defined periods. These periods are clearly separated and the recognition of their divisions with their divine purposes constitutes one of the important factors in true interpretation of the Scriptures. These divisions of time are termed dispensations, which word is somewhat different than the word age in that the word age is more general, being used of any brief division of time or generation of men, though the word age is rightly used as synonymous with the word dispensation.

It is probable that the recognition of the dispensations sheds more light on the whole message of the Scriptures than any other aspect of Bible study. Often the first clear understanding of the dispensations and God's revealed purposes in them results in the beginning of useful Bible knowledge and in the fostering of a personal interest in the Bible itself. Man's relation to God is not the same in every age. It has been necessary to bring fallen man into divine testing. This, in part, is God's purpose in the ages, and the result of the testings is in every case an unquestionable demonstration of the utter failure and sinfulness of man. In the end, every mouth will have been stopped because every assumption of the human heart will have proven its unwisdom and wickedness by centuries of experience.

Each dispensation, therefore, begins with man divinely placed in a new position of privilege and responsibility, and closes with the failure of man resulting in righteous judgments from God. While there are certain abiding facts such as the holy character of God which are of necessity the same in every age, there are varying instructions and responsibilities which are, as to their application, limited to a given period.

In this connection, the Bible student must recognize the difference between a primary and a secondary application of the Word of God. Only those portions of the Scriptures which are directly addressed to the child of God under grace are to be given a personal or primary application. All such instructions he is expected to perform in detail. In the matter of a secondary application it should be observed that, while there are spiritual lessons to be drawn from every portion of the Bible, it does not follow that the Christian is appointed by God to conform to those governing principles which were the will of God for people of other dispensations. The child of God under grace is not situated as was Adam, or Abraham, or the Israelites when under the Law; nor is he called upon to follow that peculiar manner of life which according to the Scriptures will be required of men when the King shall have returned and set up His kingdom on the earth.

Since the child of God depends wholly on the instructions contained in the Bible for his direction in daily life, and since the principles obtaining in the various dispensations are so diverse, and at times even contradictory, it is important that he shall recognize those portions of the Scriptures which directly apply to him if he is to realize the will of God and the glory of God. In considering the whole testimony of the Bible it is almost as important for the believer who would do the will of God to recognize that which does not concern him as it is for him to recognize that which does concern him. It is obvious that, apart from the knowledge of dispensational truth, the believer will not be intelligently adjusted to the present purpose and will of God in the world. Such knowledge alone will save him from assuming the hopeless legality of the dispensation that is past or from undertaking the impossible world-transforming program belonging to the dispensation which is to come.

Because of imperfect translations, some important truth is hidden to the one who reads only the English text of the Bible. This is illustrated by the fact that the Greek word aion, which means an age, or dispensation, is forty times translated by the English word world. Thus when it is stated in Mat 13:49, " So shall it be in the end of the world," there is reference not to the end of the material earth, which in due time must come (2Pe 3:7; Rev 20:11; Isa 66:22), but rather to the end of this age. The end of the world is not drawing near, but the end of the age is. According to the Scriptures there are in all seven major dispensations and it is evident that we are now living in the extreme end of the sixth. The kingdom age of a thousand years (Rev 20:4, 6) is yet to come.

A dispensation is more or less marked off by the new divine appointment and responsibilities with which it begins and by the divine judgments with which it ends. The seven dispensations are:

1. The Dispensation of Innocence.
The duration of this period is unrevealed. It began with the creation of man, was characterized by those conditions which obtained in the time of man's innocence, it includes the sin of man and ends with a divine judgment by which man received a sentence from God and was expelled from Eden (Gen 1:28 to 3:22).

2. The Dispensation of Conscience.
Possessed with the knowledge of both good and evil, man, for about eighteen hundred years, was required to act according to his own conscience - choosing the good and rejecting the evil. His failure is recorded in the history of that period. In this time man became so wicked that the age was closed with the judgment of the flood (Gen 3:22 to 7:23).

3. The Dispensation of Human Government.
Continuing more than four hundred years, the history of this dispensation records that man was given the new responsibility of government in the earth with the power of taking human life (Gen 9:1-8), which power has never been withdrawn. Man's failure to govern for God and his success in governing for himself is seen in the ungodly assumptions with which the age ended. The divine judgment on this age was the confusion of tongues (Gen 8:20-11:9) .

4. The Dispensation of Promise.
In this period of more than four hundred years, extending from the call of Abraham to the giving of the law at Sinai, the new nation which began with Abraham is alone in view. By the terms of this dispensation they are under the gracious promise and covenants of Jehovah with varied instructions as to their relation to God, to the land of promise, and as to their walk before God. The period ends with that people in bondage in Egypt from which they are delivered by the mighty hand of God (Gen 12:1 to Exo 19:8).

5. The Dispensation of the Law
This lengthened period began with Israel's assumption of the law at Mount Sinai (Exo 19:8), was characterized by fifteen hundred years of unfaithfulness and broken law, and terminates with the Great Tribulation in the earth. Its course was interrupted by the death of Christ and the thrusting in of the hitherto unannounced age of the church. Thus the church age, while complete in itself, is parenthetical within the age of the law. At the removal of the Church when the Lord comes again to receive His own, the law age will be resumed and continue for that period known as Daniel's seventieth week (Dan 9:24-27) - which week is generally conceded to be seven years.

Footnote
In determining the dispensation to which the Tribulation period belongs, it should be observed that it bears no relation to the features of this church age, nor has it the characteristics of a dispensation in itself. Though it is the consummation of divine judgment upon all men and their institutions, it is especially Israelitish. The continuity of that Jewish age which began at Sinai is incomplete apart from the events which belong to the Great Tribulation. As stated by Daniel, the seventieth week is required for the finishing of Israel's transgression and the bringing in of everlasting righteousness (Dan 9:24-27). The transgression to be "finished" could be no part of this age of grace, but is rather of the preceding age. The fact that the general features which obtain in the Tribulation are similar to those principles which were peculiar to the law age is also conclusive. The sabbath is re-established (Mat 24:20), the temple worship is renewed - though in unbelief - (Mat 24:16; 2Th 2:4), the Old Testament kingdom-hope will again be announced (Mat 24:14), and the legal principle of merit and reward for endurance will again obtain throughout that brief period (Mat 24:13). Not only does the law dispensation require the yet future Tribulation period for the execution of those divine judgments which belong to it, but, by the recognition of the sequence connecting these two periods of time, the continuity of purpose is preserved wherein the Messianic, earthly kingdom which follows the Tribulation, is seen to be both the legitimate expectation and the logical consummation of the dispensation of the law. By so much it may be observed that the present unforeseen dispensation of grace is wholly parenthetical within the dispensation of the law.

Israel's judgments began with her dispersions, were continued in the destruction of Jerusalem and her final scattering among the Gentiles, and will end with that hour of her greatest afflictions in the coming tribulation. The greatest of her sins is the rejection of her Messiah at the first advent of Christ.

6. The Dispensation of the Church.
Beginning with the death of Christ and the day of Pentecost, a new responsibility is imposed on all men - both Jews and Gentiles. This responsibility is personal and calls for the acceptance by each individual of the grace of God toward sinners as it has been provided in Christ, with good works as the fruit of salvation. While the primary purpose of God in this dispensation will be perfectly accomplished in the gathering out of the Church, the course and end of this age is characterized by an apostate church and a Christ rejecting world. The judgment will be personal as has been the responsibility. The dispensation of the Church continues from the cross of Christ and the advent of the Spirit to Christ's coming again to receive His own.

7. The Dispensation of the Kingdom.
As predicted in all the Scriptures, Christ will return to this earth and reign sitting on the throne of David. In that time Israel's covenants will be fulfilled and her earthly blessings will overflow. However, the age ends with a revolt against God and the judgment of fire from heaven (Rev 20:7-9). The duration of this dispensation is clearly declared to be a thousand years (Rev 20:4, 6), or from the second coming of Christ to the new heaven and the new earth.

As there was a dateless period before the creation of man in which there was both heaven and earth, so there will be a new heaven and a new earth after all dispensations have ceased.
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Joined: 8:14 PM - Dec 02, 2008

12:58 AM - Aug 02, 2010 #2

This is what I believe to be the truth. 
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Joined: 7:11 AM - Dec 02, 2008

5:54 AM - Oct 06, 2010 #3

Me too sis. 
Tommy
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Joined: 1:09 AM - May 05, 2009

9:01 PM - May 31, 2011 #4

I'm not a dispensationalist as far as this break down goes. I'm an Adam to Abraham.......Abraham to Moses.........and Moses to Yeshua........Yeshua to now. That accounts for almost 6000 years. I believe each dispensation is a 2000 year period. In each of those dispensations Yeshua has made himself known in various ways, so that man has no excuse for not knowing Him.
The mellinium will be the final period of time that completes the divine purpose and plan, which was determined before the foundation of the world was ever laid. Through every dispensation He has given mankind everything they need to know Him, and excape the corruption inherited from our forefathers. Still there are people who do not (refuse) to believe. The last 1000 years The Messiah Yeshua will reign in their presence. Although He dwells among them, at the end of the final 1000 years, many will turn against Him.
This will solidify they saying at judgement day, that every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, that Yeshua Messiah is THE Lord!.....and Every mouth will be shut because he gave man every circumstance throughout history, and they still rebelled.
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Joined: 8:14 PM - Dec 02, 2008

5:42 PM - Jun 06, 2011 #5

The mellinium will be the final period of time that completes the divine purpose and plan, which was determined before the foundation of the world was ever laid. Through every dispensation He has given mankind everything they need to know Him, and excape the corruption inherited from our forefathers. Still there are people who do not (refuse) to believe. The last 1000 years The Messiah Yeshua will reign in their presence. Although He dwells among them, at the end of the final 1000 years, many will turn against Him.
This will solidify they saying at judgement day, that every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, that Yeshua Messiah is THE Lord!.....and Every mouth will be shut because he gave man every circumstance throughout history, and they still rebelled.
Amen, Bad Buc!
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Joined: 3:06 PM - Oct 18, 2009

2:56 PM - Jan 15, 2012 #6

There are numerous scriptures in the Bible, that are written directly TO us in the dispensation of the grace of God; written to the church (the body of Christ), that are separate and distinct from those scriptures that were written TO and FOR the nation Israel.
TIMES PAST:
Matthew-Mark-Luke-John: They’re called the gospels. Center around the life and ministry of Christ, and the teachings of Christ to the twelve. The Gospel of the kingdom (“the kingdom of heaven is at hand”) is being preached.  The book of Acts: Transitions us from law to grace. Acts 1-8: The ministry of the twelve disciples continues. Acts 9: The Apostle Paul is saved.
BUT NOW:
Romans thru Philemon: Paul’s epistles. The doctrine of the dispensation of the grace of God (for today), and the doctrine for the church (the body of Christ).
TIME TO COME:
Hebrews thru Revelation: Deals again with the nation Israel, primarily during the great tribulation and the millennial reign of Christ.


To really understand the Bible you have to understand that there are certain books of the Bible that are written directly TO us. All of the Bible is written for us and equally inspired (2 Timothy 3:15-17), but the writings of Paul are the writings in which we find the doctrine for today.

More. . .
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Joined: 8:14 PM - Dec 02, 2008

5:30 AM - Jan 23, 2012 #7

but the writings of Paul are the writings in which we find the doctrine for today.
Agreed!
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Joined: 3:06 PM - Oct 18, 2009

4:39 PM - Jan 23, 2012 #8

grafhanny wrote:but the writings of Paul are the writings in which we find the doctrine for today.
Agreed!
The Evolution of the Gospel: What must I do to be saved?

Old Testament: Keeping the Law of Moses
Christ: Keep the commandments (law) and sell possessions (Matthew 19)
Peter: Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2).
Paul: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved (Acts 16)


More. . .
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Joined: 3:06 PM - Oct 18, 2009

4:22 PM - Jan 30, 2012 #9

John MacArthur - Dispensationalism
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Joined: 3:04 PM - May 28, 2009

11:00 PM - Feb 04, 2012 #10

The Different Ages & Dispensations
of GOD's Dealing With Men
This Is Appendix 195 From The Companion Bible.
  1. God has spoken at "sundry times" as well as "in divers manners" (Hebrews 1:1). The time when He spoke to "the fathers" is distinguished from the time in which He has "spoken to us". The time in which "He spake by the prophets" stands in contrast with the time in which He spake by (His) "Son". And the "time past" is obviously distinguished from "these last days" (Hebrews 1:2). To "rightly divide the word of truth"
    (2Timothy 2:15) it is essential to regard the times in which the words were spoken, as well as the times to which they refer.



       Three Greek words in the New Testament call for careful consideration. These are:



    1. chronos, time, duration unlimited unless defined; occ. fifty-three times and is translated "time" in thirty-two;
    2. kairos, a certain limited and definite portion of chronos, the right time or season; occ. eighty-seven times, and is rendered "time" in sixty-five passages, "season" in fifteen;
    3. oikonomia, meaning literal administration of a household (English, economy, including the idea of stewardship); occ. eight times, trans. "dispensation" four, "stewardship" three, "edifying" once (1Timothy 1:4), which the Revised Version rightly corrects to "dispensation", making five occ. in all of that English term.



       A dispensation, administration, or arrangement, during a portion of chronos may, or may not, be equal to kairos, according as the context determines.


       Nothing but confusion can arise from reading into one dispensation
    that which relates to another. To connect what God said and did in one
    dispensation with another, in which His administration was on an
    altogether different principle, is to ensure error. And finally, to
    take doctrine of late revelation and read it into the time when it was "hidden" leads to disaster.


       The nations, Israel the Chosen Nation, and the church (Appendix 186) are each dealt with in distinct "times" and on distinct principles, and the doctrine relating to each must be kept distinct. When our Lord speaks (Luke 21:24) of "the times (kairos) of the Gentiles", the implication is that there are times of the Jews (under Messiah, Isaiah 33:6,
    etc.), whatever be the contrasted elements. So that what is recorded as
    connected with the times of the Jews is not necessarily applicable to
    the times of the Gentiles. The present administration of God is in
    grace, not in law, judgment, or glory, and belongs to the "dispensation" (oikonomia) of the Mystery (Appendix 193), that secret "which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints" (Colossians 1:26), that secret "which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men" (Ephesians 3:5). Hid in God from the beginning of the world (see Ephesians 3:9), it was kept secret since the world began (see Romans 16:25).


       There is no authority for taking enactments Divinely fitted for the
    times of the Jews and transferring them to the present dispensation of
    God in grace. Similarly, the endeavor to read the precepts of the "Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5-7), which are the laws of the kingdom of heaven (see Appendix 114),
    into such church epistles as Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, not
    only obscures the truth, but antagonizes one part of Scripture with
    another.



  2. THE SEVEN TIMES OR DISPENSATIONS.




       In the Bible seven distinct administrations are set before us. Each
    has its own beginning and ending; each is characterized by certain
    distinctive principles of God's dealings; each ends in a crisis or
    judgment peculiar to itself, save No. 7, which is without end. These
    may be tabulated thus :



    1. The Edenic state of innocence.
      End - the expulsion from Eden.
    2. The period "without law" (the times of ignorance, Acts 17:30).
      End - The Flood, and the judgment on Babel.
    3. The era under law.
      End - The rejection of Israel.
    4. The period of grace.
      End - The "day of the Lord".
    5. The epoch of judgment.
      End - The destruction of Antichrist.
    6. The millennial age.
      End - The destruction of Satan, and the judgment of the great white throne.
    7. The eternal state of glory.
      No End.

       All seven dispensations exhibit differing characteristics which call for the close attention of the Bible student.



    [*] THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES.

       While the seven dispensations above specified are the main divisions
    of the long period of the Divine dealings, there is still another
    dispensation referred to as "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24), a dispensation which overlaps two of the above divisions. These times began when Jerusalem passed under the power of Babylon (477 B.C. See Appendix 50, and Appendix 180), and continue while Jerusalem is "trodden down of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). These "times" are referred to in
    Romans 11:25, which has no reference to the completion of "the church", as is so generally believed, but relates to the fullness, or filling up, of the times of the Gentiles, the word "Gentiles" being put for the times which they fill up.



    [*] THE PARENTHESIS OF THE PRESENT DISPENSATION.

       In the Nazareth Synagogue (Luke 4:16-20)
    our Lord stood up and read from the book of the prophet Isaiah. After
    reading the first verse and part of the second (of chapter 61), He
    closed the book. Why stop there? Because the next sentence belonged,
    and still belongs, to a future dispensation. The acceptable "year of the Lord" had come, but "the day of vengeance of our God" has not even yet appeared. Thus did the Lord divide two dispensations. There is no mark in the Hebrew text of Isaiah 61:2
    to indicate any break, yet an interval of nearly 2,000 years separates
    the two clauses quoted. In this interval comes the whole of the present
    church dispensation, following on the years after Israel's final
    rejection (Acts 28:25-28). See Appendix 180, Appendix 181.
-Bullinger-

Appendix List
Last edited by PHRED05 on 11:02 PM - Feb 04, 2012, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: 5:10 PM - Mar 31, 2009

8:08 PM - Dec 31, 2012 #11

This is fascinating; puts the Scriptures and their interpretation into a new light breaking down the walls that have arisen between the Families of Christianity. Why haven't I heard of this before? It makes perfect sense. Where did it start? Anybody?
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Joined: 3:06 PM - Oct 18, 2009

1:35 PM - Jan 09, 2013 #12

Cornelius wrote:This is fascinating; puts the Scriptures and their interpretation into a new light breaking down the walls that have arisen between the Families of Christianity. Why haven't I heard of this before? It makes perfect sense. Where did it start? Anybody?
To understand the origins of dispensationalism, it would provably help to be introduced to the following: John Nelson Darby, Cyrus Scofield, Lewis Sperry Chafer, John F. Walvoord and Charles C. Ryrie.


Simply put, dispensationalism holds to the distinction between Israel and the church, the separation of law [earthly kingdom] and grace [Body of Christ], and literal interpretation of the Bible, especially the end times. 


You probably haven't heard this before because most preachers and churches embrace replacement theology, amillennialism and allegorical interpretion of  the Scriptures.
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