if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believedGod, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of
debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
~ Romans 4:1-5
just shall live by his faith."~ Habakkuk 2:4
. . for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified . . . even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for
righteousness." ~ Galatians 2:16; 3:6
faith Abraham . . ."
~ Hebrews 11:8,9,17
(James, and we who read James)thy faith without thy works . . . was not Abraham our
father justified by works ("but not before God") when he had offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou [his faith]
. . .?"
~ James 2:21,22
"For without faith it is impossible to please him."
~ Hebrews 11:6
me state from the outset, that I am a
dispensationalist. But let me quickly add that I am not an
is not the way to rightly divide the Word of Truth.
MEN in every dispensation have been made just by God, before God by
grace through faith alone, apart from any works they did to earn or
keep their just standing before God.
work did Adam do to merit the covering God made for his nakedness?
The only thing Adam did was to stand by and watch God do for him what
he could not do for himself. Adam simply believed God and the work
that God did for him. He would prove the validity of his faith (not
to God, but to others) by his actions of faithfully teaching his son,
Abel, the importance of the shedding of blood in any sacrifice that
would be acceptable to God. He also taught his other son, Cain, but
evidently the attitude of Cain did not allow what his father had taught
him to take hold as it did with Abel.
In every dispensation
men receive forgiveness, cleansing and justification before God simply
by believing the present revelation that God gives of Himself to them
in that dispensation.
every dispensation men receive forgiveness, cleansing and justification
before God by simply believing the present revelation that God gives
of Himself to them in that dispensation. They testified to others concerning
their faith in what God did for them by their obedience to what had
been revealed to them. But God knows every man's heart beforehand,
and does not need the outward appearance (show of works) to know what
is in man (John 2:24,25.
Sacrifice is the Only Acceptable
in the Old Testament
study of former dispensations, and God's revelation to them, and their
faith or lack of faith in what God revealed to them, is all recorded
for our admonition (I Corinthians 10:11). The only way that we can
see their faith or lack of it is by seeing their works. God sees their
faith without their works, we see their faith
by their works Luther and ultra-dispensationalists may have
trouble seeing this, and fail to understand Hebrews and James, but men
who rightly divide the Word of Truth have no trouble at all in following
the Holy Spirit's guidance in these books which are profitable portions
of God's truth for this present dispensation.
are not responsible for the revelations which God has given in past
dispensations. These revelations are progressive, and one dispensation's
revelations are built upon a former dispensation's, and thus former
revelations are instructive for each succeeding dispensation. We can
learn from each dispensation, and apply that wisdom to our present dispensation.
An example of this is that we learn that the Law is not given to men
to make one righteous, but to act as a schoolmaster to point us to Christ.
Thus all dispensations are related to each other, and important to a
complete understanding and to right teaching of the whole counsel of
are men responsible for what is to be revealed in future dispensations.
They only need believe the light which God gives them for that dispensation.
It is when men cross over those dispensational boundaries, mixing specific
revelations from various dispensations, that cults and false teachings
arise, confusing many and clouding the simple truths God has for this
present dispensation. An example of that is the placing of Tribulation
events and practices in the church age, or placing the Church in the
Tribulation. This leads to the confusion of pre, post and mid-trib
raptures, and cultic teachings such as the preterit and Jehovah's Witness'
claims that Christ has already come.
example of Adam, who lived in the Dispensation of Innocence in the Garden,
and was ushered into the Dispensation of Conscience through the sacrifice
of an innocent animal in his place, has already been cited. But let
us look at other examples in other dispensations to show the validity
of the blanket statement that "by the works of the
flesh shall no flesh be justified"
in God's sight.
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord"
(Genesis 6:8). It is then stated that
"Noah was a just man"
(verse 9), after, and only because he received grace form the Lord.
His works followed after, as a testimony to his generation and to us
of his faith in God. He believed God when God said it was going to
rain upon the earth, when there had never been such a phenomenon as
rain in the 500 years Noah had already lived.
built an ark in the middle of the dry land because he believed God,
not to earn his salvation. God entrusted Noah with the task after Noah
found God's grace through faith, and because God knew Noah would obey
by faith. Noah's faith was made justifiable (perfect) in the eyes of
human beings by men (and us) seeing his obedience to God. That is all
that Genesis six and James two teaches us. Nothing more, and certainly,
about Job, whom God calls "perfect and upright, and one that
feareth God, and escheweth evil."
(Job 1:1,8). Was he upright because he kept the Law? Of course not:
the Law was not even written until centuries later! Job was upright
because he had been redeemed. "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the
latter day upon the earth."
(Job 19:25). He also knew and believed more than the sad-you-see Saducees,
for he believed God's revelation of a future resurrection,
"And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my
flesh shall I see God." (verse 26).
Job, we say! But, dear reader, he knew more solid doctrine than the
vast majority of professing Christians today! Where did he get all
this superior knowledge of God, when as yet not one page of Scripture
had yet been penned? He had a Redeemer, whom he knew personally, and
thus he knew that one day he would be raised by his Redeemer to walk
in glory with the God of all grace.
only way to explain all that the Bible says about Lot, the compromiser,
who walked by sight and not by faith, is through grace. There is no
other way you can explain how God can call him just and righteous!
"And delivered just Lot, vexed with the
filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing,
vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how
to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment
to be punished."
was a man who strove with righteous Abraham (sounds like a lot of believers
today, who like to squabble with other believers). Here was a man who,
walking by sight, chose the well-watered lands of the plains, instead
of leaving the choice up to God He pitched his tent toward a city of
abominable sinners; then he decided he could live with it, it wasn't
so bad, and so he purchased a house in the very center of Sin City.
He not only backslid, he also came to the point where he was willing
to stay in the presence of sin! We have too many Christians today who
have fallen into Lot's life-style Christianity!
we see him sitting in the gate of the city: the place of prominence,
where the city's elected judges sat! His life had become so compromising
that the sinners felt so comfortable around him that they would lift
him to prominence and prestige because they were confident his life
would never be a rebuke to their wicked life-style! With that kind
of living, Lot dare say anything judgmental against the life-style that
when God dragged the reluctant compromiser out of the place of wickedness,
he had become so accustomed to the life-style that he could not bear
to leave the plain. His compromising cost him his opportunity to witness
to lost and dying souls destined for destruction. It cost him his family,
his possessions and his position. His compromising led to continued
sin, including drunken incest with his own daughters!
disobedient refusal to totally leave the place of sin left abominable
sinners a foothold in the land. Here, in Canaan, the Canaanite sinners
would multiply and replenish the land, to trouble future generations
of God's people centuries later, when they would return from their captivity
in Egypt and seek to possess their God-given land! The consequences
of compromise exacts a terrible toll, and affects much more than just
in the world can the Holy Spirit call such a despicable man as Lot just
and righteous? He even categorizes Lot with the godly! Whoa, o woe!
Did God not see all Lot's backsliding compromise, and the insurmountable
damaged it caused to everyone around him and for generations to come?
"Thou God seest me,"
not only applied to Hagar, it applies to every soul who will ever walk
the face of this planet, including Lot. Does not God know, does He
not care? How His heart must have been breaking for Lot, and for all
those whom Lot so wrongly affected. But God still saw Lot through the
eyes of grace, apart from works, positive or negative.
far as James' letter goes, Lot never once showed his faith. To human
eyes Lot is not justified in claiming to be a servant of God. But man
looks on the outward appearance, while God sees what is in the heart.
What man cannot see God sees, and whether we see it or not, God sees
Lot as just and righteous. Is God unrighteous to deem such an one as
Lot as just? Would you fault God, or can we bow in awesome wonder,
and admit that the God of all grace is greater and wiser then we? No
wonder God has not made us judges over other men. We would blow it
one work can you cite in all the Genesis story of Lot that would hint
at his righteousness. If it were not for God's testimony to Lot's being
just and righteous in II Peter, would we ever guess how God judges him?
If men are saved by their works in the Old Testament, then Lot was unjust,
unrighteous, ungodly and lost for all eternity. God saw something in
Lot (how about the application of His unmerited grace) that we can only
see ourselves by accepting God's New Testament witness concerning Lot.
there is the example of Samson. Samson - the practical joker, the man
who played games with God and lost! He lost his strength, his eyesight,
his credibility and eventually his life. Yet amazingly, in Hebrews
eleven, God cites him as an example of a man of faith! Or how about
Jacob, the cheat, the liar? Or Moses the Murderer? Or Solomon, the
dumbest wise man who ever lived? Or Jonah fish-breath? Show me their
faith, or their lack of it, by their works and God will override every
example of faithlessness with His incontrovertible declaration, "By
may teach and believe error if you love contradicting God, but as for
me and my house, we will stand with God when He says,
"By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
God may have been writing that to the Galatian Christians, but the statement
encompasses all men in every dispensation.
"The just shall live by [his] faith," not by his works! That truth is so important that God repeats
it four times in Scripture: Habbakuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians
3:11; Hebrews 10:28. Do you not hear the Word of God, or are you
enamored with your own private interpretation?
God says "The doers of the law are just before God,"
what is He talking about? Balance what He says in Romans 2:13 with
Romans 3:10-23 "There is none righteous . . there is none that
doeth good, no not one . . all have sinned and come short of the glory
of God." How do you reconcile these two extremes? God cannot
lie, neither does He play word and mind games. He means what He says,
and says what He means. Jesus, answering men living in the Dispensation
of Law, reconciles these two diverse statements in John six. He was
asked, "What shall we do, that that we
might work the works of God?" (verse 28).
Our Lord answers, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." You see, the work of God is to believe
on Christ without lifting a finger! A few moments later He would plainly
state, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath eternal life."
the argument is well taken, at least on the surface, that the Old Testament
saints never knew the man called Jesus Christ. Yet it is recorded that
many Old Testament saints called upon the name of the Lord. In Enos'
day men began to sense their need and to call upon the name of the Lord
(Genesis 4:26). There are well over 300 names of God given in the
Bible. Whatever name God revealed Himself by to these saints in those
dispensations, they called upon that name. And that was sufficient
to save them, apart from works. "Whosoever shall call upon
the name of the Lord shall be saved/delivered."
(Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13). Noah, Abraham, Jacob, David,
and all the Old Testament saints called on the name of the Lord. That's
all God requires for justification and salvation in any dispensation.
All men are saved by grace through faith: faith that is placed in the
revelation God gives of Himself in each dispensation.
in his great sin (no greater than ours), broke all ten of the commandments.
His works certainly could never make him just before a holy and righteous
God who demands, "be ye holy for I am holy,"
and "without holiness no man shall see the Lord."
How then, was he made just? The only thing left to David was the sure
mercies brought to him by the God of all grace. David was saved by
grace through faith.
about the repentant thief on the cross? Born, and now dying under the
Dispensation of Law, what work did he do, could he do, under the Law?
This thief, fixed to across until he died, could not make restitution
to those he had wronged, as the Law commanded. Neither could he enter
the temple, bringing a lamb which could be offered upon the altar for
his sin. And please do not give me this hedge that this was a transitional
period. The Dispensation of Law did not end until the moment Christ
died. The Dispensation of Grace did not start until the Dispensation
of Law ended - there was no overlapping of the two. Yet the thief was
justified and ushered into Paradise with Jesus totally by grace through
faith without one work being done by the thief before or after his salvation.
and on we could go citing multiplied examples of Old Testament saints
who were saved by grace through faith. God devotes an entire chapter,
Hebrews eleven, to recounting the faith of those whom God justified
by grace through faith. Their works never saved them, nor kept them
saved, but only testified of their faith to countless generations who
have since read God's record. That is the import of the phrase
"so great a cloud of witnesses"
recorded in Hebrews 12:1.
put it as clearly as possible: if the Lord Jesus Christ had not shed
His precious blood at Calvary, no Old Testament saint would be in heaven
today. All their obedience, as perfect as a fallen human being could
have performed, would still have left them falling short of God's glory,
for that glory can only be obtained through Christ's perfect, sinless
righteousness imputed to them by faith (Romans 4:5,6; 10:1-4). Neither
is keeping God's Law an intermediate step that made them eligible to
receive the atonement provided by Christ. That would imply that something
had to be added to Christ's sacrifice to make it complete, or that
the Old Testament saints were not saved by the blood of Christ, but
by their works. That would mean that God owed them their salvation,
because they earned it (Romans 4:4). This is not Bible truth!
is true in any age, that God saves those who call upon the name of the
Lord. Granted, these Old Testament saints did not know Jesus Christ
by name. Carelessly, and for the last time I hope, I have use the trite
phrase, "They looked forward to Christ." No, they believed
God, and put their faith in the revelation that God gave to them in
that particular dispensation. That was all they were responsible for,
and that simple faith placed in whatever God revealed to them was counted
unto them for righteousness.
many Old Testament saints did see Christ's day, and the work of redemption
He would accomplish. Christ, Himself, makes this direct statement concerning
Abraham, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and saw
it, and rejoiced in it." (John 8:56). Though Abraham did not
know Christ by His earthly name, He was the friend of God, and Jesus
is God. So whom did Abraham know as his Friend?
only that, but Abraham rejoiced to see his Friend's day. Jesus said
he did see it and was glad. I, too, would be extremely glad if in
seeing Christ's day, the life of my son was saved from slaughter on
the altar! He certainly saw Christ's day in the provision of an adult
lamb (a ram) who took his son's place, and died in his son's place.
No wonder Abraham could say before the fact and with great confidence
that "The Lord will provide himself a sacrifice."
Abraham knew more than that for which we give him credit: the untampered
Hebrew text expresses that "The Lord will provide himself as
a sacrifice." The English translation, when read correctly,
causes the "as" to be understood in the context.
interesting sidelight: Mount Moriah, upon which Isaac was to be offered,
is Mount Calvary of Jesus' day! I would not be surprised to learn some
day that the altar was built on the exact same spot as Christ's cross
would centuries later be planted.
certainly saw Christ's day in the sacrifice of an innocent animal after
he had momentously disobeyed God's simple command. David saw Christ's
day in Psalm 22. Isaiah saw Christ's day in Isaiah 53. No, they did
not know Him as Jesus Christ, but they knew Him as their sacrificial
Redeemer, by one of His many Old Testament names. More insight into
this truth can be gleaned from Nathan Stone's book published by the
old Moody Colportage Press, entitled "The Names ofGod" Further insight can also be obtained in Ervin Hershberger's
book "Seeing Christ in the Old Testament," distributed
by Choice Books of Northern Virginia, 11923 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA
Sacrifice is the Only Acceptable
and Millennial Sacrifice
us pass on to the future dispensation. First, let it be established
that every dispensation ends with a judgment upon the disobedient of
that dispensation. Expulsion was the judgment upon the Dispensation
of Innocence. The flood was the judgment upon the Dispensation of Conscience.
The confusion of tongues and the dispersion at the tower of Babel was
the judgment upon the Dispensation of Human Government. The Captivity
in Egypt is the judgment upon the Dispensation of Promise. The Cross
was God's judgment upon the Dispensation of Law.
Tribulation period, often placed by some as a separate dispensation,
is in reality the judgment of God upon the Christ-rejecters of the Dispensation
of Grace. Then we come to the next dispensation, commonly known as
the Millennial reign of Christ. Whether you categorize the Tribulation
Period as a separate dispensation, or the judgment upon our present
Dispensation of Grace, many more serious errors are being taught concerning
these two periods of time.
for instance, the teaching that in these two periods people will return
to the Old Testament sacrifices for justification before God. True,
the unbelieving Jews will set up sacrifices in the rebuilt temple in
Jerusalem, but the 144,000 saved and sealed Jews will
"look upon [Christ] whom they have pierced" (Zechariah
12:10; Revelation 1:7). They will recognize their Paschal Lamb as the
risen Lord Jesus Christ, and will accept His once-for-all sacrifice
for their sins. "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin."
(Hebrews 10:4). As the ultra-dispensationalists like to remind us,
this is the book for them (the future Tribulation and Millennial saints),
not us! If that be the case, Chapters 10 and 11 will teach them that
faith in His blood shed at Calvary is the only remedy for sin. The
great multitude won by their testimony, will be pointed to the death,
burial and resurrection of the soon coming Saviour, King Jesus, not
to the temple in Jerusalem, where the Abomination of Desolation shall
seat himself as God.
the Millennium, the Lamb of God, Son of David, King of kings and Lord
of lords will sit on the throne/mercy seat in the Millennial temple
in Jerusalem, with the veil removed, and all the nations of the world
will resort to Him. There will be no temple sacrifice, for that would
be blasphemous in the presence of Him who replaced the Old Testament
sacrifices once for ever with His one-time, all sufficient sacrifice.
Those who teach this error do not recognize the all-sufficiency of the
sacrifice that Christ made at Calvary. He died for all men, past, present
Numbers 2:33, after Moses had numbered the Israelites as God had commanded
him, it is recorded that "the Levites were not numbered among
the children of Israel; as the Lord commanded Moses."
Twelve tribes are named and numbered, but the tribe of Levi is not among
them because they are reserved by God
"to do the service of the temple."
(Numbers 3:7,8). God redeemed and sanctified the sons of Levi to be
the priests of God to do the temple service of God, which would include
the offering of the animal sacrifices and blood offerings. But when
you come to the 144,000 Israelites that will be sealed by God during
the Tribulation, the tribe of Levi is not singled out to resume their
priestly duties, but are numbered as one of the twelve tribes. Why
is this so? Because there will be no priests in God's restored Israel
to administer Tribulation or Millennial sacrifices.
the cross, when Christ cried, "It is finished!"
the animal sacrifices ceased forever for God's people, never again to
be instituted as a replacement or a suplement to Christ's shed blood.
It is Christ's shed blood, sprinkled on the mercy-seat in heaven, that
cleanses from sin (I John 1:7). No animal's blood is so holy and pure
that it can replace or augment Christ's. To teach otherwise is to count
"the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an
unholy thing," and to "do despite unto the Spirit of
grace." (Hebrews 10:29).
is interesting to note that Satan is the one who promotes the continuation
of animal, and even human blood sacrifices. God will not allow Voodoo,
Witchcraft, transubstantiation and mutilation to pollute His holy altar!
Mark this down, if you do not now believe that all men in every dispensation
are saved by grace through faith, you will someday! There will never
again be the practice of animal sacrifices by God's people. Secular,
unsaved Israel more than likely will observe the Old Testament sacrifices,
but not God's people!
back to the Old Testament saints, have you ever wondered why, when Christ
died, "the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints
which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection,
and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many"
(Matthew 27:52,53)? According to I Corinthians 15:20, Christ is the
"firstfruits of the resurrection."
Now Jesus, being an individual, is resurrected, but firstfruits is plural.
The significance is found in the saints who came out of the grave and
appeared to many in Jerusalem. But note: they came out of their graves
only after Christ's resurrection. No one could arise with glorified
bodies until Christ arose; even Lazarus faced death after his being
raised from the dead by Christ.
order of the resurrections found in I Corinthians 15 correspond to three
Old Testament feasts. The wave offering was the _expression of thanksgiving
for the firstfruits of the harvest. It signified the initial ripening
of some fruit before the major harvest. The major harvest and its accompanying
feast of trumpets corresponds to the resurrection of the New Testament
saints at both the rapture and the Lord's return. The final gleanings
and its feast corresponds to the souls who will receive their glorified
bodies when they believe on Christ during the Millennium.
difficulties that the Ultra-Dispensationists' position present are numerous.
First there is their penchant for compartmentalizing God's Word to support
their position. They would teach us that the Old Testament books, Hebrews,
James and I Peter are not for us today. Have they never read II Timothy
3:16,17: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and
is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction
in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished
unto all good works?" If Hebrews is not for our day and time,
then we cannot talk of Christ's blood doing for us what the blood of
bulls and goats cannot do. If this book is solely for the Tribulation
and Millennial saints, then it condemns the very practice of renewed
animal sacrifices in the rebuilt temple, which they claim is the only
valid method by which God will count a man justified and righteous!
Suddenly, Christ's sacrifice is not finished, despite His victory cry
on Calvary, "It is finished!"
position is inconsistent with the whole counsel of God's Word, which
they purport to uphold. Now if their whole counsel of God's Word is
true, then God's Hall of Faith in Hebrews eleven is not for us today,
but solely for the Tribulation and Millennial saints. Rightly dividing
God's Word leads us to accept that Hebrews and James are written for
both dispensations, and it will teach the 144,000 that faith is what
pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) and makes them able to approach His holy
presence. But the Ultra-Dispensationalists' version of the whole counsel
of God says the 144,000 must be saved by their works! The ridiculousness
of this position is so evident to all except those who Satan is able
to blind with a man's self-important "better revelation" which
they call the whole counsel of God's Word. In reality, it is a false
doctrine, a doctrine of devils, deceptive and destructive to all who
would embrace and teach it to others. If you want to be called the
least in the Kingdom of Heaven, go ahead and teach the false doctrine
of Ultra-dispensationalism (Matthew 5:19).
4:11,12 makes a striking statement that bridges the gap between all
the dispensations of both the Old and New Testaments.
"This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders,
which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation
in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among
men, whereby we must be saved."
the Old Testament God vowed "that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear."
He repeats this same vow in the New Testament,
"As it is written, every knee shall bow to me, every tongue shall confess to God" (Romans 14:11). He leaves no doubt
as to who He is in both the Old and New by restating the vow:
"that at the name of Jesus every knee should
bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God
the Father." (Philippians 2:10). This certainly leaves absolutely
no one out, no matter resurrected and in heaven, or walking the face
of this world, or buried in the grave below! All shall bow, from Adam
to the last man born into this world, not to a generic god, but to a
living God whose name is Jesus! Only He is the worthy Lamb, slain from
the foundation of the world, for all mankind's sin.
could anyone stand before the precious, spotless, holy Lamb of God and
tell Him that His loving sacrifice is not absolutely sufficient for
a man's salvation in any age? This is a slap on the face of my Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ that I cannot stand idly by and ignore. I
take it personally when anyone maligns the one who loved me and gave
Himself for me. You may say, do not get so personal and emotional about
it, but I say, do not treat the Lover of my soul so carelessly. After
all, if it was not for Him, you would not stand a chance, and neither
would anyone else!
Sacrifice is the Only Acceptable
for You and Me Today
do not live in any of the past dispensations. We who have been saved
by grace through faith in this dispensation will not need to be overly
concerned with how souls will be saved in any future dispensation.
In, fact, other than to establish dispensational truth, for believers
to focus on this one aspect of doctrine and to separate from others
who do not hold to the same view, is to major on a minor. To treat
it as though it is of major importance to our own salvation and our
living godly lives in Christ, is to shift the focus of our attention
away from the simplicity that is in Christ. How Satan loves that!
Anything to side-track us from the main task for which Christ has left
are not saved by knowing how people supposedly got saved in other dispensations.
I have yet to meet anyone who has been led to Jesus Christ by being
taught the first thing about previous or future dispensations, unless
it be that judgment lies ahead for all who refuse Jesus Christ. Souls
are saved by pointing them to Jesus Christ and living such a life before
them that they desire to have what we have.
Apostle Paul had a prolific ministry in difficult and dangerous times.
Hundreds of thousands of souls came to Christ in that first century.
Hundreds of churches sprung up throughout the Roman Empire and beyond,
many of them the result of Paul's missionary journeys. What was Paul's
am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it
is the power of God unto salvation to every one
that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein
is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith"
(Romans 1:16,17). That is why Paul would tell the Corinthians, "I
determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him
crucified." (I Corinthians 2:2).
Christ sent me . . . to preach the gospel"
1:17). And what is this Gospel that the Lord sent him to preach? In
I Corinthians 15:1-4 he describes it:
"Moreover, bretheren, I declare unto you thegospel which I preach unto
you . . . how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried,
and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures."
Anything that takes up time preaching or defending other themes that
do not pertain to the Gospel is a subtle device of Satan designed to
rob us of time doing what Paul did - reaching souls for Jesus Christ.
whole issue seems to appeal to men's egotistical desire to have some
corner of "truth" that no one else has. Suddenly one has
more knowledge than his "less spiritual" brothers. And if
these brothers will not acknowledge that superior knowledge, then he
must separate from them in order to remain unhindered in his teaching
the "whole counsel of God." This is nothing more than spiritual
I have watched helplessly as a few close associates and long-time friends
have embraced this untenable position. They soon become arrogant, hostile
and condemning. Their self-imposed separation tends eventually to lead
to bitterness and isolation. No one knows the truth they alone possess!
hope is in Christ. Our message to others is
"be ye reconciled to God."
(II Corinthians 5:20). Like Paul, we ought to approach others with
this scriptural attitude: "For I determined not to know any
thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."
(I Corinthians 2:2). Ultra-dispensationalism takes the focus off of
Christ and Him crucified.
you have drifted into this clever distraction of Satan, get your mind
and heart off of that which "are words to no profit, but to
the subverting of the hearers."
(II Timothy 2:14). Be careful, dear friend, that what you teach does
not "overthrow the faith of some"
(II Timothy 2:18), even if it is not exactly what Hymenaeus and Philetus
the contrary to you having to break fellowship with other bretheren,
you may place yourself in the position where the bretheren may have
to obey God and break fellowship with you.
"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words,
even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is
according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about
questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings,
evil surmisings, perverse disputings . . . from such withdraw thyself."
(I Timothy 6:3-5).
is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth"
(Romans 10:4).In context, that was written concerning the Old
Testament Jews, but it was also written as an example warning us to
cease from our own self-righteous efforts, and call upon the name of
the Lord. His sacrifice is the only acceptable sacrifice for the remission
of our sins in this day and age, as well as in every age.
"He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only,
but also for the sins of the whole world"
(I John 2:2).
the risk of being redundant, it is very important for the sake of emphasis,
that we repeat once more the tragedies of ultra-dispensationalism.
No matter what one believes about how people get saved in other dispensations,
the dispensation we have to deal with is this dispensation. Our plea
to unsaved men is not based upon what we believe about other dispensations.
major on teaching men about other ways of salvation in other dispensations
clouds the present issue of how they must be saved in this dispensation
(Acts 4:12). It is a cleverly designed ploy of Satan to keep us focused
on the unimportant, while souls slip by us into an eternity without
Christ. Precious souls, for whom Christ died, are dependent upon our
giving them what they need to know about how they can be saved today.
it needlessly divides brothers in Christ. It feeds the starving ego
(which should be dead - Romans 6) of a believer looking for recognition
as a teacher of the "whole counsel of God." It is a form
of one-upmanship that in reality makes that one someone who will be
called the least in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:19). It eventually
affects one's relationship with other believers.
man can have right doctrine, and still live wrong, which sadly describes
the problem of many who seek to follow Christ today. But a man cannot
have wrong doctrine, and still live right. Works for salvation in any
dispensation is wrong, and it puts stumbling blocks in the paths of
others who are seeking God's truth. It is direct disobedience to the
plain command of God: "Judge this rather, that no man put a
stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way."
(Romans 14:13). "He that loveth his brother abideth in the
light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him."
(I John 2:10).
seven dispensations are progressive in nature, each bringing to man
a more detailed revelation of God and His dealings with man. In each
dispensation man is justified by God through a man's willingness to
believe in the present revelation God has given them (Hebrews 11).
dispensation is also a revelation of man's failure in his response to
God's newer revelation to that dispensation. Each dispensation ends
in a judgment by God upon that dispensation for men who have refused
to believe God.
1. INNOCENCE EXPULSION
2. CONSCIENCE FLOOD
3. HUMAN GOVERNMENT BABEL
4. PROMISE CAPTIVITY
5. LAW CROSS
6. GRACE TRIBULATION *
7. MILLENNIAL REIGN GOG & MAGOG
teach the tribulation as a separate dispensation, but it is God's judgment
on the day of Grace.
the Son and
the Holy Spirit
as the one true and Eternal God.
the sinless and eternal abode of God.
and sinless perfection.
GOD'S HOLY WORD: "Forever,
O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89).
was in eternity that God predetermined that Christ would die for the
sins of all men (Revelation13:8), and stated in His sovereignty that
"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
It was then that God foreknew who would trust Christ and it was then
that He predestinated them "to be conformed to the image of his
Son." (Romans 8:29). That God's predestination applies to believers
only is revealed in Christ's statement, "Depart from me, ye that
work iniquity, I never knew you." (Matthew 7:23)
the beginning God created the heaven* and the earth." (Genesis 1:1). It was during this time that
God also created the angels, for they were there when God laid the foundations
of the earth, beginning in Genesis 1:2.
(Job 38:4-7). Creation
means to make something out of nothing, a feat that no man can do and
intellectual scientists and philosophers cannot explain. The theories
and the "big bang" must start with something; God started
with nothing but Himself!
modern translation read "heavens," but God did not divide
the heaven until day two
with the creation of man on day six and continuing until Adam and Eve's
expulsion from the Garden. (Genesis 1:25-3:24). Most likely the shortest
of all the dispensations; it could have lasted only as long as from
day six to day eight.
expulsion of the first family was God's judgment upon that dispensation.
That God did not slay them on the spot is the direct result of that
lamb dying in their place. The substitutionary sacrifice of an innocent
animal foreshadows the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the
world. Thus it was probably a lamb that died in order to keep true
to the typical pattern laid out in Scripture.
lessons to be learned are that even when man is innocent, he does not
possess the capacity to obey God. The environment was perfect, so sin
is not the result of environment. They had direct access to God, so
sin was not the result of a lack of knowledge or education. Paul says
that "Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, slew me." (Romans
7:8). How true this was of Satan, who took occasion by the simple commandment
of God given in Genesis 2:16,17, and deceived and slew the guilty pair.
The Dispensation of CONSCIENCE
Dispensation of Conscience begins with the expulsion and continues through
the flood, which was God's judgment upon that dispensation. It shows
the failure of man to properly respond to the pricks of God to the individual
conscience of fallen man. It teaches us that, although God still holds
the reins* of control over man's conscience, its depravity is clear,
for in the end of this era,"God
saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth,
that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only
* A study of the word
"reins" shows that God controls fallen man through conscience.
evil continually." (Genesis 6:5).
found grace in the eyes of the Lord and was commanded to build an ark.
He responded in faith, seen by his obedience. Noah was saved by grace
through faith, and his faith was made perfect by his works after receiving
grace and faith. Faith, given by God's grace, always produces good
works, but man's good works never merit God's grace. If your faith
produces no good works, my friend, your faith is vain.
men could have been saved from God's judging flood by the same grace
that Noah found, for God gave them 120 years to repent before He judged
of the other characters introduced to us during the Dispensation of
Conscience are Cain, the first murderer, and Abel, the righteous brother
he slew. In the days of Enos, men began to call upon the name of the
Lord (Genesis 4:26). Men are always saved by calling upon the name
of the Lord, "For
whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13). This answers
the question of how Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord is found
in Noah's believing God's promise and calling upon the name of the Lord.
man who lived to be the oldest man to ever live, Methusaleh (969 years),
and Enoch, who walked with God and was not for God took him, were two
other characters who lived during this period. It is very appropriate
that Methuselah died in the same year as the flood came, for his name
basically means, "When he shall die, it (God's judgment) shall
flooded the world with sin; and God flooded the world to wash away that
sin and give Noah and his family a new chance in a new dispensation.
The period of this dispensation covers a span of approximately 1650
years, from the time of expulsion to the end of the flood. Eight souls
emerged to find a further revelation of God in the Dispensation of Human
The Dispensation of HUMAN GOVERNMENT
Dispensation of Human Government begins with Noah and is judged by God
at the Tower of Babel with the confusion of tongues and the scattering
of the people across the face of the earth. Prominent characters of
this period are Noah's three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth; Nimrod, his
son, Asshur (Ninus in ancient history), who built Ninevah.
was with the death of Nimrod, possibly at the hands of Shem, and the
birth of Asshur that goddess worship began. According to ancient records,
Nimrod had been raised to the status of a god. Shortly after his death
his wife, Semaramis, gave birth to a son, who was proclaimed to be the
reincarnation of Nimrod.
son was proclaimed by Semaramis to be the son of god, and she the mother
of god. This tradition carried on to almost every religion around the
globe. In Phoenicia she was known as Ashteroth or Ashtoreth, from which
came her pagan festival known as Easter. In Canaan God forbade His
people to worship her as the queen of heaven (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17-25).
New Testament times these attributes and titles filtered down to Diana,
goddess of the Ephesians. In 431 a.d., Rome incorporated her worship
into the organized church, and assigned those titles to Mary. This
pagan worship of a fantasized mother of god and queen of heaven permeates
the church of Rome to this day.
The Dispensation of PROMISE
this period God would establish the family of Heber as His people through
whom He would teach the world of Himself and His love. It was also
during this period that Abraham, who would be known as the father of
faith, would see Christ's day and be glad in it (Genesis 22:713; John
8:56; Hebrews 11:1719).
Jacob and Joseph would all play major roles in God's further revelation
of Himself and His love to man. "These
all,, having obtained a good report THROUGH FAITH, received not the
promise: God having provided something better for us, that they without
us should not be made perfect." We
see their faith by their works, and we know they are justified in their
faith, because we see their example of works that were the result of
their faith (James 2:20-22).
beautifully and completely God's Word fits together when we rightly
divide the Word of truth! (II Timothy 2:15). But, as with all of the
dispensations, man failed, and God judges this dispensation with Israel's
bondage in Egypt. Truly, "all
have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
The Dispensation of LAW
loving discipline of His wayward children may be long and sometimes
severe, but it is never eternal (Hebrews 12:5-11). Four hundred years
would elapse before God had prepared the children of Israel for His
next revelation of Himself and His love.
journey into a more perfect understanding of God would begin with another
lesson in the importance of the shed blood of an innocent sacrifice
being God's ultimate remedy for sin. Knowing that God is omniscient,
it is no mistake that in every major language, the sea they crossed
was the Red Sea! Despite modern theologians who scoff at God and His
miracles, it was not the Reed Sea they crossed. Beware of Bible maps
that show their path as crossing the lower Nile delta: they passed through
an over-their-heads sea of water.
is their forty years of wanderings in the Wilderness of "Sin"
accidental. Oh, I know these two words are English, and not Hebrew,
but God knew it all along! Sometimes I believe God has a little fun
with the confusion of earthly languages.
main lesson we can learn from this dispensation is that the Law was
never designed by God to make a man righteous. Quite the contrary,
the Law was given to lovingly point out the fact of how far short of
God's glory all men come (Romans 3:10-23).
Paul says, "The
law . . . was added because of transgressions, till the seed should
come to whom the promise was made. But the scriptures hath concluded
ALL UNDER SIN, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given
to them that believe. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring
us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Galatians 3:19,22,24). The
all includes both Old and New Testament saints and the promise
is given to all who believe, both Old and New Testament souls
who have, will or shall call upon the name (by which they knew Him)
of the Lord.
eleven names many from the Dispensation of the Law who
by faith in the God they knew, called upon Him and were saved.
God's judgment upon this dispensation culminates in the death of the
Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, who fulfilled
all the Law for all those who, in
all ages, could never fulfill the Law. To believe that any man
in any age could fulfill the whole Law and bypass Jesus Christ and His
sacrifice, or add to His sacrifice, is a slap in the face of the Saviour "who loved us, and washed
us from our sins in his own blood." (Revelation
1:5). It shows a woeful ignorance of God's Holy Word, and an inability
to rightly divide the Word of truth.
The Dispensation of GRACE
"For the law was given by
[through] Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 1:17). Each dispensation has its own special
revelation of God and His love. The Dispensation of Grace is so named
not because it is the only dispensation where God deals with man by
grace, but because it is this dispensation that the wonderful grace
of God is fully understood in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus
Christ. Remember, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and he
certainly did not live in the same dispensation in which you and I live.
God's grace through faith has been and will continue to be in operation
in every dispensation, but it is only now, in this dispensation, that
this great mystery has been fully revealed (Ephesians 3:2-6).
did it all for everybody in every age (Ephesians 2:11-18). The atonement
was not limited, as some would claim. The Lamb of God was slain for
the sins of the whole world (John 1:29; I John 4:14). He is the propitiation
for the sins of unbelievers as well as believers (I John 2:2).
over six billion souls populate the earth that God created for man to
inhabit. That is more than 50% of all the people who have ever lived
from Adam to now. There is no more opportune time for God's grace to
be manifested to the fullest. There is no more opportune time for God's
people to proclaim the good news that Christ died for you. Yet Satan
has devised so many deceptive lies to keep us from sharing the grace
of God with others. Just think, if all men would be saved (as God desires
- II Peter 3:9), over half of all the soulls ever breathed into existence
by God would be in heaven instead of hell!
a terrible tragedy if we do not buy up every opportunity to get the
eternal Word of God into the eternal souls of men! But what a glorious
opportunity to reap the golden harvest if we keep ourselves busy about
our Father's business as our Lord did. How long do we have? What if
tragic judgment of God lies just over the horizon when Christ will appear
in the clouds and call the believers home (I Thessalonians 4:13-18;
Revelation 4:1-5:14). Then the wicked one will be revealed (II Thessalonians
2:9). The seven-year Tribulation Period will begin when God will pour
out His wrath upon a Christ-rejecting, unbelieving world (verses 10-12).
This is the judgment which concludes the Dispensation of Grace.
of MILLENNIAL REIGN
has been made by some of the re-institution of the Levitical sacrifices
during both the Tribulation and Millennial periods. This will probably
be the practice of those Jews who reject Christ as their Messiah, but
it will not be the practice of believers. Christ is our great High
Priest, not after the order of Aaron, but after the order of Melchisedec
(Hebrews 7:11,23-27; 9:11-14,24-28).
Saviour died once; He will never die again. Christ shed His blood once;
He does not, as the church of Rome teaches, offer Himself daily. He
sprinkled His shed blood on the mercy seat in heaven once; it will never
need to be sprinkled again. His sacrifice and His blood were so perfect,
that once accomplished, it need not be repeated ever again. Truly,
as He cried, "It is finished!"
we return to the weak and beggardly elements? Do we replace the perfect
with the imperfect? As Paul asked the Galatians. "Who hath bewitched
you?" Why would God "do away with the old" and replace
it with the new, and then go back to the old? Watch that old wine bottles
do not burst when they cannot hold the new wine!
an animal sacrifice when the final Sacrifice sits on His throne in Jerusalem?
You look Him in the eye, and tell Him, "Lord, just in case Your
sacrifice is not sufficient, I want to add to Your sacrifice, just to
be on the safe side!" If you believe this, you brand yourself
an unbeliever, who does not know the whole counsel of God.
is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the
ways of death." (Proverbs
14:12; 16:25). When God says something once, we had better take heed;
when He says something twice, we had better hasten to examine ourselves
before it is eternally too late!
lesson to be learned from the Millennial period is simple. Satan will
be bound for all but a very short season at the close of the era. No
one will be able to blame their sin on Satan.
will anyone be able to blame their sin on the environment, for Jesus
will have restored all things as they were meant to be in creation.
The environmental doom sayers of our day do not believe the Bible, therefore
they are in a panic over even legitimate environmental usage. Nothing
is ever out from under God's control. We who believe need not fear
what men may do to the ozone. Polluted oceans, rivers, streams and
toxic wastes will be neutralzed by the Lord who now sustains all things.
Millennial Reign will end with the release of Satan for a short season,
who will go out to deceive the nations, gathering them against the people
of God in Jerusalem. Fire will come down out of heaven and devour Christ's
Great White Throne Judgment will take place and all who have rejected
God's revelation of Himself and His love in all ages will stand before
the Lord Jesus Christ to be judged. The proof will be irrefutable.
The guilty of all ages will be cast live into the Lake of Fire, to be
tormented for all eternity.
you think they will be annihilated, burnt to a crisp in the eternal
flame, just ask Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego. Ask the rich man who
will still be crying for Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool
his parched tongue.
you ready for eternity - God's way? If you play with eternal fire you
will be eternally burned. If you know you are a sinner, bow your head
right now and tell Jesus. He is the Friend of sinners: He loves you.
you do not know you are a sinner, you had better find out quickly!
Read Romans 3:10-23 one more time and see if it does not describe you
accurately. Since it does, for it describes us all, acknowledge your
sin and throw yourself on the mercy of the loving Saviour. He is able
to save now!
Every soul will
live in eternity in one place or the other. The saints will be in Heaven
with Christ and anywhere Jesus is will be Heaven! The unsaved will
be in the Lake of Fire.
The saints will
enjoy untold bliss. "Eye
hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of
man, the things that are prepared for them that love him" (I Corinthians 2:9; from Isaiah 64:4). This
is a promise to both Old and New Testament saints.
For the unsaved,
their expectation is far different. "And
the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever" (Revelation 14:11) "It
shall not be quenched, the smoke thereof shall go up forever" (Isaiah 34:10) "for
their worm (soul) shall not die, neither shall
their fire be quenched" (Isaiah
66:24). Not a very inviting prospect for even the most wicked of sinners!
If you are not saved
from this foreboding event, you have right now, this very moment, grace
from God to repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ and His shed blood
for the remission of your sins. "For
whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13).
Oh, dear soul, do
it today. Eternity may begin this very hour! Spend your life with
Christ and explore the unseen and unheard things that God has for you.
To the believer,
one parting word. Dispensationalist or not, you bear a heavenly responsibility
to every lost person around you. You may be their only link to Christ
and salvation. You are an ambassador for Christ; you represent Him
in this foreign country. They cannot see Him, but they can see you.
They can hear Him through you. Live for Him before them, that they
may see your good works (wrought by Him) and glorify your Father which
is in heaven. Then speak unto them the reason for the hope that lies
What about Jeremiah
similar Old Testament
question arises as to promises made by God in the Old Testament concerning
the re-establishment of the Levitical priesthood and the function of
their office. "Neither
shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings
and to do sacrifice continually."
(Jeremiah 33:18). As previously stated, the unbelieving Jews will rebuild
the temple in Jerusalem, and re-establish the functioning of the Levitical
priesthood. Though they possess a zeal for God, but still "not according to knowledge" (Romans 10:2), these are unbelieving Jews, for
they still have not turned to Christ, their Messiah.
In their ignorance
they will believe and adhere strictly to Old Testament teachings. Their
eyes will not yet have been opened to the truth of Romans 9 - 11 and
the book of Hebrews. But Christ, the only Priest "forever
after the order of Melchisedek"
(Hebrews 7:17), superceeds and supplants the functioning of the Levitical
priesthood. Because of the supreme sacrifice of "the
Lamb of God, which [alone] taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29), "every
priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins" (Hebrews 10:11).
What do you think
will happen when the blind eyes of the Jews (Romans 9-11) are opened
to the Gospel so long possessed by Gentile believers (Psalm 146:8; Isaiah
42:7)? When they "shall
look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as
one mourneth for his only son"
(Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7),
then they shall not want a man, for they shall have Jesus!
Again, the ceasing
of the Levitical priesthood as a functioning entity is indicated in
their being named as one of the twelve tribes to receive an inheritance
the restored Israel of the Millennial period (Revelation 7:7). In the
Old Testament economy the Levites received no inheritance, for the Lord
was their inheritance (Deuteronomy 18:1,2). Now, in Christ, their Inheritance,
they enter into a kingdom of priests, with Christ as their eternal High
Priest (I Peter 2:5-9; Hebrews 9:11). This kingdom has no sacrifices
to be performed, because the supreme, eternal Sacrifice, once made by
the Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for all sinners of all ages.
What could an earthly
priesthood add to such a complete and all-sufficient sacrifice? Absolutely
nothing! God (Christ) will not share His glory with another. Worthy
is the Lamb that was slain, to receive riches, honor and glory (Revelation