One of the more necessary
concepts of Christianity, in order to understand Gods plan for history and for
each individual, is the concept of Dispensations.
Without a basic understanding
of dispensations, the believer will not be able to make correct applications of
doctrine, which apply to different era s in
And without a
fundamental understanding of dispensations, the believer will not be able to
understand his own personal role in life as well as in history.
Once born into this
world, the individual is spiritually dead.
Spiritual death requires a redeemer to buy back, as it were, ones
freedom from the slavery of eternal death.
Jesus Christ is that unique redeemer, through His work on the Cross.
Each person need only
believe in Christ, Jn 3:16, and thus his eternal
salvation is settled forever, in that one unique moment, Rom. 8:38-39, 1 Pet.
But the big question,
once a person has been saved is, After salvation,
And it is the believers
attitude toward bible doctrine that will determine his/her individual quality
of life here on earth, and his/her reward in heaven in the next life.
All things in Gods plan come to the individual believer, freely, Rom.
8:32. But the believer is still required
to be responsible and obedient to Gods truth.
One cannot pretend or live a life in accordance with lies, and expect
grace from God.
of the time in which the believer lives in history, the one key element for
ones spiritual life is, learn Bible doctrine and grow up to spiritual maturity.
We are told to
transform the thinking of our minds, Rom. 12:2, such that Gods plan and purpose
for our individual lives, might be fulfilled, Rom.
12:2, Eph. 1:18, 4:22-24. The post
salvation life demands spiritual growth to maturity, 2 Pet. 3:18, and that is accomplished through a daily study of Bible
doctrine, 2 Tim. 2:15.
You as a believer in
Christ, are kept on this earth, in order to fulfill your destiny, which is to
grow up to become a mature believer, a winner, Eph. 4:13-16.
Your life, as a mature
believer, becomes a unique expression of the glory of God, both now in time and
forever in eternity, Rom. 8:29-30, 9:23-24.
But, and there is
always a but, you do not accomplish this by default, it is reserved only for
the spiritually mature believer, Rom. 6:1-2, 1 Jn. 1:5-2:6.
Those who live in
perpetual infancy, because they choose to not grow up, do not fulfill this
All divine blessings
that the believer can understand and experience and comprehend,
come only as a result of the believers spiritual growth. Spiritual infants cannot understand,
comprehend or even experience the things of the spiritual adult.
Bible doctrine is the teaching
of the content of the scriptures, through academic instruction, such that the
believer s mind is transformed and so that doctrine becomes a measure of the
believers thinking and mental attitude, Rom. 12:2-3, 2 Tim. 3:16-17, Phil. 2:5,
God magnifies His word
above His name, Psa. 138:2. Why? Because it is only through Bible doctrine
that humanity has access into God, His life, His character, His purpose, and
therefore an understanding of their own life.
Now that is the purpose
and plan for your life, to grow up so that God (not you) can fulfill your life
and bring you to the point of your ultimate completeness. Most folks never reach this goal, because
most folks never grow up, because most folks don t make the effort. Remaining a spiritual infant is much easier,
than growing up by means of a daily study.
As far as history is
concerned, God has divided up history into segments of time, or era s, or
A dispensation is
defined in terms of divine revelation or purpose. In each succeeding dispensation, God reveals
more and more truth, which makes known Gods plan for humanity as it unfolds
Thus the concept of dispensations, identifies the different mechanics and
procedures as well as the continuities that run between and through the them. And this helps the believer to understand how
history works, and when various events apply to history and to what era of time
In the Bible there is
common theme and distinction between Israel and the Church, Acts 10:45, Rom.
11:25, Gal. 6:15, Eph. 2:11-22, Heb. 3:5-6. And the dividing point between these two
dispensations (Age of Israel and the Church Age), is the First Advent of Jesus
Jesus Christ is the key
to all interpretation of history, Eph. 3:10-11, Rev. 1:8.
There are many ways to divide
up history, and in any given conversation, you could probably come up with a
dozen different ways to divide up history, however there are three basic
divisions in history.
The prehistoric period which occurred prior to the creation of man, followed by human
history, followed by eternity.
During human history,
there are three basic divisions of history.
The theocentric, christocentric,
and the eschatological periods of human history.
period began with the start of human history to the First Advent of
Christ. It includes the Age of the
Gentiles and the Age of Israel. It is
the long ago period before God spoke to us in His Son, Heb. 1:1-2.
period includes the First Advent of Christ, as well as the Church Age, and will
end with the end of our current dispensation (the Church Age) at the Rapture.
period is future and includes the Tribulation, and the Millennium.
These three categories
of history make up human history from Adam to the end of the Millennium.
From Gods perspective,
the administration of different periods of time in dispensations, is the
demonstration of the relationship between Christ and the Church, which is the
ultimate goal of history, wherein the believer is in union with Christ, Eph.
1:17-23, 3:10, 21.
Satan wanted to be like
the Most High, and tried to and is still trying to, take
Gods sovereignty away, for himself.
However in grace, God
demonstrates that he is able to create a creature lower than the angels, and
elevate them above the angels, even to the point of union with Christ, which is
the ultimate height for any created being.
And that is the believers ultimate destiny.
A long time ago, Satan
revolted against God, Isa. 14:13-14.
Satan and the angels that joined in his revolt were convicted, Ezek.
28:16-18, and then sentenced, Matt. 25:41.
This sentence was issued before humanity was created, but will not be imposed
until after the Millennium, Rev. 20:10.
So, why the gap or
delay, between sentencing and execution of the sentence?
In legal terms, once
the sentence was imposed, then an appeal is available for the convicted. And thus Satan has in effect an appeal
through human history, to prove his innocence, making consistent claims against
Gods character, and God has the opportunity to prove His righteousness, Psa.
145:21, Zech. 3:1-10, Lk. 2:14, Rom. 9:23, 11:25-36,
Job. 1:12, 2:6, Matt. 4:1-11.
Human history was begun
to resolve this angelic conflict, as Satan attempts to prove himself equal with
God, Isa. 14:14. But Satan only
demonstrates his own incompetence, and evil, and this only serves to confirm
his arrogance and guilt, and that his sentence was just.
Gods wisdom is revealed through human history, to
rulers and authorities (fallen angels) in heavenly places, Eph. 3:10, 6:12.
And God uses the
various changes in dispensations, to demonstrate over and over, His perfect
righteousness, and Satan s guilt.
And so just before
Christ ascended to Heaven, He was questioned regarding the timing of future
events, Acts 1:6-7.
And [de] he said [epo] unto [pros] them, [autos] It is [esti]
not [ou] for you [humon] to know [ginosko]
the times [chronos] or [e] the seasons, [kairos] which [hos] the Father [pater] hath put [tithemi] in [en]
his own [idios] power. [exousia]
The key words here are times
and seasons. The words
for times, chronos, indicates time as a
succession of events, one following the other in chronological sequence. It is used in Rom. 16:25 and 1 Pet. 1:20,
with a dispensational connotation.
Seasons, or epochs,
kairos, refers to an era of time, characterized by
a system or development of something that is unique to that era. This noun is used to assemble organizational
events within a defined set of historical boundaries. For example, the dinosaurs belonged to their
own era, the Garden of Eden had its own defined period of time, the pre-flood
era had its own designated timeframe, and so forth.
Sometimes kairos, refers to the Church Age, Rom. 8:18, 11:5, 13:11,
or to the Age of Israel, Eph. 2:11-12, or to the Age or Times of the Gentiles, Lk. 21:24, which is a reference to the combination of two
dispensational periods including the Church Age and the Tribulation.
So why were the
disciples told that the times or epochs were not for them to know? Because they already knew the concept of
dispensations, but were expecting the immediate Kingdom of God, because of
their feelings against the Roman occupation of their country. They had already been told by Jesus, Matt.
23:27-25:46, John 14-17. They knew of
the Kingdom of God through scriptures in the Old Testament, a Kingdom that
would come at the end of their dispensation, Psa. 89:27-29, Isa. 40:3-5,
62:10-12, Micah 4:1-8, 5:2-4, Zech. 9:9-10.
Jesus had taught them
the dispensational concept throughout His ministry, Matt. 5:17, 24:3.
The disciples and
almost everyone, wanted to know the specific dates of when the Kingdom was
going to come, but God demanded a spiritual response to the Cross prior to the
Kingdom, Matt. 23:37. The disciples
misunderstood the principle of the rejection of the Messiah, by Israel, and the
necessary opening up to the gentiles, because of that rejection. Thus the Age
of Israel was set aside, interrupted, for the Age of the Gentiles, which we
call the Church Age.
Jesus Christ presented
Himself as the Messiah, the King of the Jews, the Son of David, the fulfillment
of Gods unconditional covenants, but these were rejected by the Jews, and
therefore the Kingdom was postponed until the Millennium. And actually it was not postponed by any
action of God, but by the actions of the Jewish nation.
God will establish His
Kingdom based on His timing, not mans, 1 Thess. 5:1-2.
Now the Age of the
Church was begun, which focused on a new body of believers, both Jews and Gentiles,
now called neither Jew nor Gentile, but Christians.
The disciples, as are
many believers, were confused because they did not see the end of the ministry
of Christ to the Jews, and the beginning of His ministry to the Church.
And so it is with many
believers in our current day, they do not separate these two distinct era s,
and because they do not understand dispensations, in which certain events belong
to one and not to the other, then they confuse doctrinal teaching and fail to
understand even fundamental prophecies, Col. 2:16-3:3.
It was not until the
arrival of the Church Age, at Pentecost, that the apostles and disciples began
to understand the principle and need for the Church Age. Paul taught it to the disciples, Gal. 2, and
to us through Peter, 1 Pet. 3:1-16.
Their understanding of
these things is reflected in 1 Thess. 5:1-2, you yourselves know full well
There are two other
Greek words, that describe dispensations. They are aion,
From aion, we get the terms, Age of Israel, or Church Age, Rom.
16:25, Eph. 3:9, Col. 1:26.
The term, oikonomia, defines a period of specific administration to
that period or era, 1 Cor. 9:17, Eph. 1:8-10, 3:2-3, 8-9, Col. 1:25-29, 1 Tim.
1:3-4. These passages refer to the Church
At specific times in
history, God has instituted changes in authority, responsibility, procedure,
and so forth. And these changes apply to
first one group, and then another group, and then another group and so forth.
For example, there was
first the focus on the time of innocence in the Garden, then that passed on to
the Gentiles, then that changed to the Nation of Israel, then that changed to
Jesus Christ in His first advent, and from there to the Church, and from our
current dispensation, to the besieged remnant of Israel in the Tribulation, and
then to the Millennium.
Dispensations were not
arbitrary insertions or divisions of history, but relate to the unveiling of
divine revelation as history unfolded.
Jesus confirmed the times and epochs as fixed by Gods own authority,
Paul, in his teaching of
the Church Age, referred to it as the mystery age, Col. 1:26.
The mystery doctrine
unveils the characteristics unique to the Church Age, and sets it apart from
all other dispensational periods because of those unique differences.
Christ foretold of the
Church age, John 14-17.
The Church Age was
brought into existence in order to glorify Christ to the maximum, John 16:14,
Eph. 1:21-23, 5:25-27. The doctrines of the
Church Age, depend on the glorification of Christ,
Christ announced His
success and the formation of the Church in which God would glorify Him forever,
Israel was given every
opportunity to accept the Messiah, but they rejected Him. The Church was not brought into existence
until after their (the Jews) rejection of Christ.
Two passages written by
Paul, demonstrate the principle of dispensations, through the mystery doctrine,
Eph. 3:1-5, and Col. 1:25-27, by contrasting all other dispensations against
that of the Church.
The way of salvation did
not change from one era to another, however, the believers in the Church Age,
became recipients of many more privileges and blessings, that were not
available to believers in the other dispensations. That blessing list is written in another study,
which you can find in the Special Studies Library, on the web site. It is an extensive list, and unique to our
The Age of Israel
contained the promise of a Messiah and a Divine Kingdom. When the Messiah was rejected, 1 Pet. 2:9, effectively
at the Cross, then its continuance as an era, was about to be placed on hold. Forty days after the Cross, Jesus ascended,
and then ten days later, at the Feast of Pentecost, the Church Age began with
the giving of the Holy Spirit, who was sent to indwell every believer, and does
so, throughout our dispensation.
The dispensation of the
Church is the era of the formation of the Royal Family, for the purpose of the
maximum glorification of Christ.
Jesus Christ possess s among others, three titles and families. He has a divine title, Son of God and His divine
family is the Godhead. He has a Jewish
title, Son of David, and His family is the Davidic dynasty. He has a third title which is His battlefield
title, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Bright Morning Star, and his family is the
We in effect when we
believe in Christ, become a member of his family and
thus are divine royalty. We are known as
the Body of Christ or the Church, Gal. 3:28, Eph. 1:22-23.
This very existence of
a royal connotation and title, makes our era unique in
history, distinguishing us from all other dispensations.
During the Church Age,
the Royal Family is being formed, and once formed, will be removed from the
earth in the Rapture.
Subsequent to our Age,
are two more era s of time, called the eschatological
era s, namely the Tribulation, and the Millennium.
Both were referred to
in the Old Testament, while the Church Age was never mentioned. Thus all
prophecy revealed in the Old Testament, which remains unfulfilled, belongs to
each of these future periods, and not to the Church Age.
The Church Age has its
own unique set of predicted historical trends, revealed by Jesus, in the New
Testament, but never revealed in the Old Testament.
immediately precedes the founding of Gods Kingdom, and is their last punishment
for their rejection of Christ, Dan. 9:27, Rev. 11:3, 12:6, Isa. 34:1-6, 63:1-6,
Jere. 30:4-8, Eze. 38-39,
Dan. 11:40-45, Zech. 12:1-3, 14:1-2, Rev. 6-19.
The Tribulation is also
called the time of Jacob s trouble, Jere. 30:7, and
Daniels seventieth week, Dan. 9:24-27, and the time of Satan s desperation,
Rev. 12:12. It will last seven years.
During the first half
of the Tribulation, also called Satan s attempted utopia, Satan will try to
establish his own version of a millennium on the earth. His attempts to purse prosperity and peace
will be only masks for coercion, slavery and violence. A large portion of the world s population will
die during this utopia attempt.
Satan will be ejected
mid way through the Tribulation, and the last half of the Tribulation, the last
three and a half years, will see tremendous evangelization of the world, as
well as tremendous rejection of Christ by most folks. This will result in unprecedented violence
and judgments against the world.
The Tribulation will end
with a huge world war, and will be stopped and brought to an end by the Second
Advent of Christ. Christ will deliver the believing Jews, Isa. 5:26-30,
10:20-23, 11:11-16, 14:1-3, 63:1-6, Joel 2:16-3:21, Zech. 10:6-12.
These events are all a
part of our study of the Book of Revelation.
Christ will establish
His one-thousand year rule, and will rule during the greatest period of
prosperity and peace in all of history, Dan. 9:24, Zech. 14:9.
At the end of the
Millennium, then the final judgments will be held, Rev. 20:11-15, our current
universe will be destroyed, and a new and permanent universe will be
created. There, we believers will live
with God forever, 2 Pet. 3:7, 10-13, Rev. 21-22:5