Dispensationalism

May 5, 2020

A common question that non-dispensationalists often ask is why some people believe in dispensationalism. To answer this question, we must first pose another one:

“How many times have we wrongly applied scripture to our own lives?”

It is rather easy to assume that much of the Bible is applicable to Christians today, especially when it comes to one’s salvation. However, as we continue to learn about scripture, we realize that everything is not applicable to our lives as Christians, but rather, different things are applicable to different people in past, present, or future time periods. To avoid wrong doctrine, it is imperative that we rightly divide the scripture as to make these distinctions through dispensationalism.

Simply put, scripture can be split into 4 timelines:

1. Old Testament (Genesis to Jesus dying on the cross)

2. New Testament Christianity (current)

3. Tribulation (post-Church Age)

*separated by the rapture

4. Millennium (Jesus reigns on earth)

 

Arguments that Attack Dispensationalism

Many times, we tend to trust sources online rather than going to scripture or the interpreter of the word, God himself. It is here where we find different opinions and through our search of what is truth vs. fallacy, we often end up overloaded with information and more confused than ever. God is not the author of confusion, Satan is. The enemy uses our confusion to his advantage and further distorts right doctrine. Whenever uncertainty arises, consulting scripture can help clear confusion and find truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Misinterpretation of the phrase “rightly dividing” can lead to wrong doctrine/ideas. One such is the notion that comparing scripture with scripture is the same as comparing contradicting scripture while adding other verses to come up with the truth. To divide does not mean combine in any case so when scripture tells us to divide it means to separate.

Dispensationalism before Darby

Dispensationalism is often attributed to be a wrong doctrine due to its alleged “novelty” in terms of who it has been popularized by (most commonly Darby, Scoffield, and Ruckman). However, this can be easily debunked by studying the history of dispensationalism. Many historical evidences of dispensationalism date as far as the 2nd Century! That being said, dispensationalism is not a novel idea but one that has been contemplated and perfected over an extended period of time.

Examples of Dispensationalism in Scripture

Galatians 3: 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

Faith for salvation was not applicable to all time periods. The Old Testament saints were subjected to the law before faith was introduced with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ much later. Therefore, faith (which was shut up) without works did not give the people of the Old Testament salvation.

John 1:16-17 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Many examples of grace are found in the Old Testament. For this we have to define grace, which is something that we do not deserve but nonetheless receive from God, not necessarily referring to salvation. There are countless examples of this throughout the Old Testament in which God gives bits of grace. However, the grace mentioned in vs 16 has a different definition and pertains to the fullness of Jesus’ grace that we receive when we are saved.

John 7:38-39 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Jesus preached salvation through grace (by believing in him) prior to his death, burial, and resurrection so people could believe once it happened. This salvation plan only became applicable after these events occurred.

Luke 4:17-21 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Jesus also believed in dispensationalism since he divided a passage from the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 61). He read until a certain point because only part of the verse was applicable to his time period, in which case he rightly divided. (see Bible verses proving Dispensationalism)

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast.

People often discredit multiple salvation plans for different groups because the verse says “not of works”. This is applied to the Jews’ salvation which some people say could not have been saved through works unless they boasted of such. Because of this, they claim we all have the same salvation by grace. This can be debunked by what time period “grace” falls under, which is the Church age. Verse 4 and 5, further expands on the grace that is provided by Jesus.

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

The grace that is mentioned is accompanied by the phrase “this time period” which means it is only applicable to the present timeline after Jesus was crucified (Church age). The meaning of grace is lost if work is needed to attain grace and vice versa with works.

Revelation 14:11-12 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

Salvation through faith only during the tribulation is not possible since there will be active avoidance of taking the mark of the beast. Tribulation saints will have to work for their salvation because it will take tremendous effort to avoid persecution and withstand torture from the anti-Christ.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

1 Corinthians 12:4-5 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

Hebrews 13:8 is often used to disprove dispensationalism. This verse, however, describes God’s character, which is unchanging. God himself cannot change but he can change what he gives us. 1 Corinthians 12:4-5, shows that God gives different things to different people and ministers them differently.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

This verse covers the remission of sins and receiving of the Holy Spirit for Jews not Christians when reading prior verses. Therefore, it is not necessary to receive a water baptism for salvation in our timeline.

Other verses in the book of Hebrews are used to justify works for salvation. We can easily prove dispensationalism with this book by simply looking at its title “Hebrews” which are also known as Jews. Therefore, this book is intended for the Jews.

The following verses further reassure that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the rapture:

  • Ephesians 1:13-14
  • Ephesians 4:30
  • Romans 8