According to the New Scofield Bible, a dispensation is, “A period of time during which man is tested in respect to his obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God.” Dispensationalists see seven such periods of time, dispensations in which God deals differently with his people. These dispensations are innocence, conscience, government, promise, law, grace, and tribulation. Following these are the millennial kingdom and the eternal state. It is not my purpose to expound dispensationalism in these posts, but I list these periods of time to underline this assertion: Dispensationalism is complicated.
Granted, life is complicated. History is complicated. Getting the most out of Scripture requires work, thought and discipline. Even learning games is complicated (I played crib recently, but I still don’t really get it). However, I do not believe that understanding God’s ways with man has to be so difficult.
We have embraced a helpful discipleship tool, The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus. As the title indicates, it is based on the account of Jesus with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus found in Luke 24. It is simple, it is profound, it is biblical and it has been well received by new Christians and searchers in our church. The organization Good Seed takes no particular eschatological stand, but their take on biblical interpretation lines up very well with my own. The emphasis is on God as Creator/Owner of all that He has made, pervasive human sinfulness since the Fall and God’s Promised Deliverer.
God’s revelation unfolds over time, little by little. This covenant was hidden in the past, is revealed through the preaching of the Gospel, and will be fully experienced when we see Christ face-to-face. Each of these aspects deserves a separate blog post. Let me leave you with three passages from the ESV as a teaser:
Rom 16:25-27: Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith-- to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Gal 3:17-18: This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
1 Peter 1:10-12: Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.