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Dispensations of Grace and Kingdom
Keep this in mind as we go through the dispensations: The interpretation of Scripture is a fundamental factor in understanding the Dispensations. Proper Scriptural interpretation follows standard dictates of grammar. If there is any confusion about this issue there is a great-unbiased pamphlet by Mr. Frank X. Braun available for Bible students on Amazon and elsewhere. It is called “English Grammar for Language students”. Since the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek an understanding of grammar is indispensable to understanding the Bible. Don’t make the mistake of listening to others tell you that basic nouns actually mean something other then their normal commonly accepted definition. Therefore Israel and the Church are two separate entities. Don’t be misled into believing that Israel is the so-called Church of the Old Testament. One New Testament verse that some use as a “proof text” affirming that the term Israel is the Church is found in Acts 7:38. In this text we find Stephen’s address to the council. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us (KJV). There are other verses used a “proof text” and all fail to persuade when examined in the light of proper grammar. The term used here is ekklesia. It is a feminine Greek noun meaning an assembly. Vines describes this as such: An Assembly: From ek, “out of,” and klesis, “a calling” (kaleo, “to call”), was used among the Greeks of a body of citizens “gathered” to discuss the affairs of State, Act 19:39. In the Septuagint it is used to designate the “gathering” of Israel, summoned for any definite purpose, or a “gathering” regarded as representative of the whole nation. In Act 7:38 it is used of Israel; in 19:32, 41, of a riotous mob. It has two applications to companies of Christians, (1) To the whole company of the redeemed throughout the present era, the company of which Christ said, “I will build My Church,” Matthew 16:18, and which is further described as “the Church which is His Body,” Ephesians 1:22; 5:23, (2) In the singular number (e.g., Matthew 18:17, RV marg., “congregation”), to a company consisting of professed believers, e.g., Acts 20:28; 1Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:13; 1Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1Tiothy 3:5, and in the plural, with reference to churches in a district. For each dispensation there are 7 aspects. 1) Each dispensation has a “Name” 2) Each dispensation has a “Chief Person” 3) Each dispensation has been provided a “responsibility” to God. 4) Each dispensation has been given a “Test” from God. 5) In each dispensation man has “Failed” the test. 6) For each dispensation God has provided a “judgment”. 7) God has provided a measure of “grace” for each dispensation. Further, a new covenant is often the basis for a new dispensation. We will look at the covenants at the conclusion of the Dispensations.
GRACE or the CHURCH AGE
1. The Name of this dispensation is Grace or some call it the Church.
While grace was evident in all other dispensations, it is in this dispensation that a very unique display of grace was manifested that was different from all former displays of grace. Concerning this dispensation, John 1:17 states: For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Certainly, God was gracious before the coming of the Messiah, for there are many evidences of God’s grace throughout the pages of the Old Testament. However, with the coming of Jesus, there was a totally unique display of grace. This is why it is called the Dispensation of Grace. This is the dispensation in effect at the present time. This dispensation extends from Acts 2:1, with the beginning of the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, through Revelation 19:21. It covers the entire period of the Church Age, and also includes the seven years of the Great Tribulation.
2. The Chief Person was Paul.
It was Paul who uniquely received the revelation concerning the Dispensation of Grace. It was no accident that he received more revelation than any other apostle. Most of the letters or Epistles of the New Testament were written by the Apostle Paul. As he makes clear in Ephesians 3, it was he that received that special revelation concerning the dispensation of that grace of God (v. 2). He, more than any other apostle, is the key person for this dispensation.