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About Doctrines

Dispensatons



While Paul views God's economy as being divided into two parts, before and but now, we should not lose sight of the fact that he also frequently looks ahead to being with God in heaven and eternity, so the Apostle actually has a third time frame. We will encounter this time frame for the first time in Romans 5 as Paul looks to the hope of glory.

As we read the entire Bible, however, it may help to place all of Scripture within more specific time frames. This will help us interpret various provisions and better understand some of the concepts and teachings of the Scriptures. To better understand this view, let us take a brief side journey into the land of Dispensations.

There are really only two key elements here. First, God has dealt with mankind in a series of progressive instructions. There are (depending upon one's view) six-to-nine dispensations. In general, these are from Adam to the Fall, from the Fall to the Flood, from the Flood to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Christ, the Church age from Christ to the Tribulation, the Millennial Kingdom, and Eternity. In each dispensation, God reveals new knowledge to man. Man attempts to understand and apply this new knowledge. Man fails in his efforts. God chastises man. God commences the cycle all over again. All of this is designed to teach man via a variety of mechanisms, including the law, in order to demonstrate the utter futility of life without God.

Second, in God's dealing with mankind, the Jewish Nation and the Church are two separate and distinct groups. God's Old Testament covenant with Abraham runs to the Jewish Nation and God will deal with the Nation and fulfill this covenant in the future. The book of Revelation is primarily the story of God's final chastisement and offer of salvation to Israel.

In order for God to deal with Israel, He must first remove the Church. This is the Rapture, the taking home of the body of Saints (1 Thess 4:13-18). It sets the stage for the actions of the Anti-Christ. God uses the Anti-Christ much as He used Pharaoh. God will demonstrate His power, and in the process, will save the Jewish remnant. This taking home of the Church before dealing with the Jewish nation is called premillennialism.

In all fairness, I should make two other points. First, within the family that believes dispensationalism is the proper method of interpretation, there are differences of opinion over the number of dispensations and the manner in which things carry over from one era to the next. For example, how what portion of the instructions about government given to Noah are still valid?

Second, those who follow Calvin and Reformed Theology view all of history as being set forth in covenants, not dispensations. The initial covenant was formed by the Trinity before time began. But, even here, they disagree over the precise nature of the covenants.

All of this is presented not as a precise method of interpretation but as a manner of assisting you in your overall understanding of Scripture.

 

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