In summary: Dispensationalism is a non-biblical system of belief, inserted into the Bible via the Scofield Reference Bible. In order to grab the attention of people, and to diminish the spiritual influence within the Bible, Dispensationalism literalizes a number of scriptural interpretations, and refutes the power of Jesus Christ to completely deliver people from sin, and to have Christ reign in their hearts in the fullness of his Kingdom today. Dispensationalism is an elaborate framework for understanding the “seven different dispensations of the Bible.” And in doing so, it obscures the full revelation of Jesus Christ to the one who subscribes to Dispensationalism teachings.
The dispensational time periods of seven dispensations, is necessary to be able to justify the teachings of the rapture, and the future millennial reign of Christ on the Earth, which they claim is the 7th dispensation.
In Matthew the 24th chapter, when Jesus was asked the question, “What shall be the sign of your coming?” The first words of his answer were, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” The reason why he said this is because, end-times teachings are going to be used by many false ministers to deceive: especially in relation to the manner of Christ’s Kingdom and his second coming.
“Take heed that no man deceive you.”
Dispensational doctrine was originally presented by John Nelson Darby, and later codified into a reference version of the Bible that was developed by Dr C. I. Scofield.
So how will you know whether a particular end times teaching, like those put forth by Dispensationalism, is right or not? There are many things we need to be careful about when interpreting scripture, especially scripture that relates to prophecy.
Although they would claim otherwise, in reality Dispensationalism publishers choose when to ignore the known best practices for accurately interpreting scripture. This is so they can create their own interpretation, based on the manipulative and deceptive reinterpretation opinions of a few people. And they do this especially through the publication of the Scofield Reference Bible (heavily edited and annotated by Scofield), which many people trust as being “the gospel.”
And because most people themselves do not practice the known best practices for studying scripture, they are easily deceived into believing something else. Most people tend to prefer someone else’s interpretation, because it takes a lot less effort on their part. Consequently, they are easily deceived and led astray.
The Apostle Paul warned us in his epistle to Timothy, to not become lazy concerning studying the scriptures.
“Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.* ~ 2 Timothy 2:14-16
Dispensationalists claim that to rightly divide the Word, you also divide it into seven dispensations. Is that what is necessary to rightly divide the word?
Let’s talk about some of the basics for understanding scripture. There are two well known disciplines for studying scripture:
- Exegesis – an interpretive discipline that focuses primarily upon the word and grammar of scriptural texts.
- Hermeneutics – a discipline which seeks understanding thorough a knowledge of the original languages, the context of the ancient history during the writing of a particular scripture, and then also comparing that scripture with other scripture.
Included in these two disciplines, is the purpose of being careful to understand the full context (biblical, historical, language, semantics, cultural, etc.) of which the particular scripture is given.
But in addition to these two disciplines for interpretation, the Bible scriptures themselves have two additional witnesses that direct and inspire understanding. Witnesses that you will never find in any other ancient manuscript.
One, the scriptures are divinely influenced.
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” ~ 2 Peter 1:20-21
And so the scriptures contain the integrity of Almighty God himself in them. So this means, when scriptures are properly interpreted, they will not contradict the teachings of other scriptures in the Bible. Even though different scriptures were written in completely different times in history, and by authors of completely different backgrounds. The influence of God in the scriptures, keeps the teaching in them consistent, logical and spiritually sound across all the different books of the Bible. And when interpreted spiritually, they all point to and focus on the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as the one and only Savior, and as the fulfillment of all scripture.
Two, to understand the depth of the spiritual meaning contained within the scriptures, we need the Holy Spirit himself to witness and teach us in our heart and soul.
The Holy Spirit teaches more than just to the intellect of our minds. Using the Word, the Holy Spirit searches into the soul and spirit of the individual, and understands the intentions within their heart.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” ~ Hebrews 4:12
And so he teaches the individual, according to their spiritual need. And often in times of difficulty and hardship, the Holy Spirit speaks to our heart, and reveals to us the deeper meanings of sacrificial love that are contained within scriptural teachings. This is how the fullness of the revelation of Jesus Christ is accomplished. The fullness of the scriptural meaning is provided by God himself, through his Holy Spirit.
This is what Jesus told Peter, after Peter declared the revelation of who Jesus really is.
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 16:16-17
It is the Holy Spirit that accurately knows how to apply the Word of God to an individual’s spiritual need, and reveal who Jesus Christ is to them.
Additionally, the Holy Spirit is the only one that is qualified to take the Word of God, and direct a ministry in how to preach it, and to apply it to the people that they serve. No seminary nor individual person has the authority to stand in the office of the Holy Spirit! This is why the Word of God is described as “the sword of the Spirit” and not the sword of the ministry.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” ~ Ephesians 6:17
So to understand spiritual things, we need the scriptures in their original form, and accurately translated into our own language, without all the distractions and distortions of the Scofield Reference Bible. And we need the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, not the Scofield Reference Bible.
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” ~ John 16:13
True deep spiritual meanings from the scriptures, and especially from prophetic writings, requires the individual to compare spiritual things to spiritual. And that is impossible without the Holy Spirit!
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9-10
And God does not reveal things to anyone claiming to be a minister, if they are still wrestling with some contamination of sin in their life. The true Holy Spirit will not qualify an individual for the ministry, if they still have sin in their heart. Because they are not qualified to compare spiritual things to spiritual. So take heed who you allow to administer to you in spiritual things!
- “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:12
- “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” ~ 1 John 4:1
As already stated, Dispensational doctrine teaches that the Bible is divided into seven dispensations:
- Innocence – from the creation to the fall of man
- Conscience – from the fall until the great flood
- Human Government – from the tower of Babel until Abraham
- Promise – from Abraham until Exodus from Egypt
- Law – from Exodus until Jesus Christ
- Grace – from the resurrection of Jesus Christ until the rapture of the church (for more information read: The Rapture Teaching, Is It True?)
- Millennial Kingdom of Christ (for more information read: The Millennial Reign in Revelation Chapter 20)
Note: Remember Dispensationalists often interpret Bible scripture literally, and not spiritually.
Dispensationalists reject the idea that many of the promises made to Abraham, would be fulfilled in Christ’s first coming. To the contrary, they believe that many of the promises made to Abraham will be fulfilled in Jesus’ second coming, during their 7th dispensation: the millennial kingdom.
Classical dispensationalists refer to the present-day Church as a “parenthesis” or temporary interlude in the progress of Israel’s prophesied history. This view sees the Church age as having much less a connection with the preceding one of “law”, often standing in sharp contrast to it. The same may be said of the “kingdom” age that follows. Therefore they also believe that the church is not the fulfillment of the kingdom of God in the earth. Hence they believe in the need for a 7th disposition: an earthly millennial kingdom to come.
At the heart of Dispensation Theology is the belief that God’s program for the nation Israel is not the same as His program for the Church. Therefore they teach that the nation of Israel will later acknowledge Jesus Christ in the millennial kingdom on Earth, when most of the promises given to Israel in the Old Testament, will be fulfilled.
So now, let’s look at what the scriptures actually teach us about all this.
“Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.” ~ Psalm 145:13
“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the scepter of thy kingdom is a scepter of righteousness.” ~ Psalm 45:6
Two things are noted in this scripture:
- The Kingdom of God is forever and ever. It existed before God created the Earth. And it still existed in the Old Testament. And it will continue to exist forever, because it is a spiritual kingdom.
- Scepter here stands for the rod in the hand of the King, meaning the rule, or authority that the King governs by. God’s kingdom is ruled by his righteousness, through his son Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ has always been: King of kings and Lord of lords, in the hearts of those who love him. This is the kingdom of God.
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and forever.” ~ Hebrews 13:8
Dispensationalism openly and plainly refutes these (and many other) fundamental teachings of the scriptures. Dispensationalism claims that Christ’s kingdom has not been established yet, therefore their notion of the church is: Christians living under a type of grace where they still sin. They believe people on Earth cannot live holy sin-free lives, with the righteousness of God in them today.
When Jesus was on earth, his ministry was announced by John the Baptist, as he preached: “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And Jesus himself preached and brought the kingdom of heaven to Earth.
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” ~ Matthew 3:1-2
There is no sin in heaven. And that is why it was only Jesus that could bring the kingdom of heaven into the hearts of people on earth. The righteousness of God, through Jesus Christ, produces holiness in the hearts and lives of those who love him. Just like the way it is in heaven, where there is no sin.
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” ~ Matthew 4:17
When asked how to pray, Jesus told them to request that the will of God be done in his kingdom children on Earth, just like it is done in heaven.
“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” ~ Luke 11:2
But Jesus’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. It is where God reigns on the throne of our hearts.
“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” ~ Luke 17:20-21
Because it is a spiritual kingdom, it has always existed. Jesus made the way, by his sacrifice, so that we could be part of that spiritual kingdom. The earth is temporary. Therefore Jesus’s kingdom is not a literal kingdom on Earth.
“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” ~ John 18:36
Jesus’s kingdom is not of the earth, but it is within the hearts of those who dwell both on Earth, and in heaven. It is a spiritual kingdom that has existed forever within the hearts of those who love God. Through Jesus Christ, the spiritual kingdom includes both those on Earth and in heaven.
“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:” ~ Ephesians 1:10
Dispensationalism uses the word “dispensation” to denote seven distinct and separate historical times in the existence of mankind on Earth. And Dispensationalism teaches that Jesus’ kingdom only comes into existence in the 7th dispensation, after the dispensation of grace and the church is raptured up to heaven.
Note: Dispensationalism teaches that the church and the kingdom are two separate things. Whereas Jesus Christ, and his apostles, taught that they are spiritually one in the same, through the holiness of God working in them.
“And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” ~ John 17:10-16
Jesus’s prayer was answered by his heavenly Father. And so the church was established with God reigning in their hearts through love, as they became one with God. And that is the spiritual Kingdom of God, brought down to earth. Both in heaven and on Earth, it is the same kingdom. And so when the true church is gathered together to worship, it is described as a heavenly place in Christ Jesus.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” ~ Ephesians 1:3-4
This has been the plan of God all along, even before the foundation of the world. And so when he created Adam and Eve, the kingdom of God existed within Adam and Eve’s heart, before they gave into the temptation of Satan. And so Jesus Christ came to re-establish the fullness of the kingdom of heaven on Earth again, within the hearts of men and women
Dispensationalists teach that Jesus will return again to establish a literal physical kingdom on Earth during the millennial. But Jesus plainly stated before he died, that he had finished the work that he came to do on the earth:
- “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” ~ John 17:4
- “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” ~ John 19:30
Now Dispensationalism claims that there are seven time periods pertaining to the world of mankind. And these seven different time periods are called dispensations.
In the Bible, the word “dispensation” never refers to a period of time. Its actual meaning is “a stewardship,” “the act of dispensing,” “an administration.” The word “dispensation” is not used in the Old Testament at all. And in the New Testament it is only found in: 1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 1:10; 3:2; and Colossians 1:25. You will not find in the Bible the term: “seven dispensations”.
In Colossians the Apostle Paul speaks about the responsibility given him for preaching, and revealing the fullness of the gospel. This dispensation (or stewardship, or administrative responsibility) was placed upon Paul when God showed him by revelation, that the gentiles would also be gathered together in Christ.
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” ~ Colossians 1:25-28
The purpose of this dispensation of the gospel that was given to Paul, was so that the spiritual perfection of holiness might be produced, even in the gentiles.
Jesus Christ is the central point for the kingdom of heaven, which is the spiritual kingdom of God, being established within the heart. And when he establishes the kingdom in the heart, by the love of God in our hearts, we become one with the kingdom, through Christ Jesus.
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” ~ John 17:20-23
The full Gospel of Jesus Christ, is the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament covenant promises. And so the New Testament covenant includes all the Old Testament in spiritual fulfillment through Christ. Fulfilling the completeness of the gospel of the heavenly kingdom, within the hearts of people on earth.
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” ~ Matthew 24:14
The Gospel of the Kingdom has covered much of the world already. In the final end of the world, everyone with the kingdom in their heart, will continue in the kingdom that has already existed, before the foundation of the world. But the world and it’s sufferings and temptations, will come to a final end.
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” ~ Matthew 25:34
Dispensational teachings have only been around for roughly a hundred and fifty years. It is just one of many deceptions that Jesus warned us would come into existence, towards the end of time.
Finally, in the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus referred to the kingdom more than one hundred times; and only twice to the church. His salvation message, and church message, was a kingdom message. And it was clear that it already existed then when Jesus instructed a certain scribe:
“And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.” ~ Mark 12:32-34
Jesus told him he was not far from the kingdom, because he knew now what was needed in his heart, to enter into the kingdom. And because the Kingdom was there, waiting for him to enter in.
And so now, we also know what is needed to enter into the Kingdom today. Have we entered into the Kingdom of God?
Satan wants you to wait. But Jesus wants you to believe the promises given to Abraham has already been fulfilled, and today you can live in holiness and righteousness.
“To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” ~ Luke 1:72-75
This kingdom of holiness and righteousness in the heart, was reestablished when Jesus first came. And it continues even until today, within the hearts of those who faithfully love and obey him.