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The Fourteenth (Dispensationalism)

This week we're going to talk about dispensationalism. If you don't know what it is, don't worry. I'll go through a brief synopsis of what it is and why some believe it.

I'm in the middle of How to Enjoy the Bible, by E. W. Bullinger. It's a great book if you're looking for a reference to help understand the structure of scripture and aid you in its interpretation. As with anything, you must not just take his work at face value. You must study what he's written and determine if you agree with what he's come up with.

One of the things I've chosen to disregard is the doctrine of dispensationalism. In short, this belief is that God has set distinctions between the different time periods of mankind and all He said and did during those times, how he dealt with mankind, can only be applied during those specific times. We can learn from other dispensations, but the "rules and requirements" of those dispensations do not, and cannot, apply to us.

On the face of it, this doctrine seems to have some merit. For example, after the fall of man, caused by Adam and Eve, and until the commandments given to Moses and his people, mankind had right and wrong passed down generation to generation. This started with Adam and Eve, as God had given them the "do's and don'ts" directly. Once the commandments were given, written by the hand of God and spoken to Moses, they were the standard by which mankind was supposed to live. People before Moses couldn't be held accountable to the commandments because they weren't written yet. And people during and after Moses were required to follow them, and not just what was passed down from generation to generation.

The problem with this doctrine is that it gets taken too far. For example, some people start to claim it allows us to ignore the commandments of God because it doesn't apply to our current dispensation. But, we know that Jesus didn't come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). We also know that as believing Gentiles we are grafted into the same tree of God's chosen people, the Israelites (Romans 11:13,17-18), who were given His law. Finally, we know that the law tells us what is sinful (Romans 7:7). So, while we know that we are not "under the law," (Romans 6:15,16, 7:6) meaning following the law is not how we attain righteousness as in the days of Moses, we can see that we are still to follow it in obedience to God and to keep from sinning. The only difference is that we no longer require sacrifices if we transgress the law. We are able to ask God for forgiveness through Jesus Christ because He became the sacrifice of all sacrifices.

There are other examples of the idea of separate times in mankind's existence being taken too far and twisted to be against God, but the overall key is to understand that God is unchanging (Psalm 55:19, 102:27, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 1:12, 13:8). Therefore, His expectations for us don't change. I have no proof but my belief is that the commandments given to Moses were the same requirements given to Adam and Eve verbally by God. He also is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11), so no matter who you are His requirements are the same. This includes whether or not you lived in Noah's time, Moses' time, Jesus' time or now. The only difference is how you can be cleansed of unrighteousness (Hebrews 9:19-22 vs Luke 22:20) and what knowledge you were given that you will be judged against.

I hope this gives you a little insight as to the doctrine of dispensation, if you haven't heard of it before, and why I've found it to be misleading. If you'd like more information, or want to discuss further feel free to email back!

Shabbat Shalom and God bless you!

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