Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Dispensationalism is in the subtitle of this blog. This is a system of Bible interpretation that is held by every person who contributes here. Personally, I believe this system of Bible study to be the essence of taking the Scripture in context. It is very important to know what you are looking at when reading the Bible and not to just go by vague impressions.
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 15)
This means to cut the text straight. We must make every attempt to discover the meaning of Scripture by discerning who it was written to, how and if it applies to the church, etc…
For example, I can’t look at Joshua 6 and … feeling that my city is being run by evil men … decide that it is God’s message to me to:
March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in…
This is not a message to me or anyone in the Church age. The Lord does not have us marching around cities to bring down evil. In this age, we are to preach the Gospel and the Holy Spirit saves individuals. This is a very simple example of what dispensationalism means to me.
Another helpful way of stating this principle is:
All Scripture is for us, but not all Scripture is to us.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness… (2 Tim. 3:16)
… but, every message … to various people and groups … in different ages and circumstances … are not to me and you today in the church. I think that is a pretty simple idea.
Have you ever read a teaching in Scripture that that seemed to really contradict the clear teaching to the Christian in the New Testament Epistes? This could be because it was written to someone, or some group of people, in a different dispensation.
Most Classical Dispensationalists would recognize seven dispensations:
(1) the dispensation of innocence (Genesis 1:1 – 3:7), prior to Adam's fall
(2) of conscience, (Genesis 3:8 – 8:22), Adam to Noah
(3) of government, (Genesis 9:1 – 11:32), Noah to Abraham
(4) of patriarchal rule, (Genesis 12:1 – Exodus 19:25), Abraham to Moses
(5) of the Mosaic Law, (Exodus 20:1 – Acts 2:4), Moses to Christ
(6) of grace, (Acts 2:4 – Revelation 20:3), the current church age
(7) of a literal earthly 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom that has yet to come but soon will, (Revelation 20:4 – 20:6).
The Scriptures divide time (by which is meant the entire period from the creation of Adam to the "new heaven and a new earth" of Rev. 21: 1) into seven unequal periods, usually called dispensations (Eph. 3:2), although these periods are also called ages (Eph. 2:7) and days, as in "day of the Lord."
This method for Bible study was developed to aid in the understanding of the change in God's method of dealing with mankind, or a portion of mankind, in respect of the two questions: of sin, and of man's responsibility.
Each of the dispensations may be regarded as a new test of the natural man, and each ends in judgment, marking his utter failure in every dispensation. Five of these dispensations, or periods of time, have been fulfilled; we are living in the sixth, probably toward its close, and have before us the seventh, and last: the millennium. (C.I Scofield)
I have found this to be very clarifying in my Bible study and have been surprised by the amount of scorn it gets from some Biblical Christians. I think it has possibly been misunderstood in many circles. I have read where people think that Dispensationalists are touting several ways to heaven, (based on the dispensation the person is in) not just through Christ alone. This is not my understanding at all. I see the OT saints as looking toward the cross and the lamb slain in faith ... and we, in the NT are looking back on His sacrifice in faith. I have more to learn on this subject, however and I am looking forward to some articles by some of the other contributors here to help clarify better. (nudge)
I really believe that lumping the whole Bible together and not making distinctions between the different audiences ... and ages ... is detrimental to the church.
It may safely be said that the Judaizing of the church has done more to hinder her progress, pervert her mission, and destroy her spiritually than all other causes combined. Instead of pursuing her appointed path of separation from the world and following the Lord in her heavenly calling, she has used Jewish Scriptures to justify herself in lowering her purpose to the civilization of the world, the acquisition of wealth, the use of an imposing ritual, the erection of magnificent churches, the invocation of God's blessing upon the conflicts of armies, and the division of an equal brotherhood into "clergy" and "laity." (C.I. Scofield)
Here is a great short booklet if you’re interested in learning some more about Dispensationalism. This was the first Christian book I ever read besides the Bible. Enjoy!