There was never a time that God did not bring Israel back to Himself for fellowship after chastising them, due to His promises to Abraham (Deu 7:8). They often fell out of fellowship with Him, and are presently “fallen” out of fellowship with Him (Ro 11:11), but have never been out of union with Him! Therefore, there is yet a time and place when Israel in general will return to permanent fellowship with Him (as a people of God but not as children of God); and senseless would it be to conceive that God would abandon His people Israel, a union which has been established now for nearly 3300 millennia (1300bc; giving of the Law to Israel – 2000ad present time).
The term “dispensation” used in the Word of God (1Co 9:17; Eph 1:10; 3:2; Col 1:25) signifies a certain ordered administration for a certain period of time (e.g. the dispensing of the Law of Moses and of the Gospel of Christ are not the same method of operations, yet have the same goal, just performed in different manners, i.e. Law brought forgiveness but not renewal—NC). It may be called an economy, or the management of an organized system. In a larger and more general sense it is used to describe any period of time wherein God operated toward man in a particular manner. In a broader sense we might consider the following.
a) He first place man in an earthly paradise, but he was no sooner there that he sinned, and thereby died unto God. b) After the sin in Eden came expulsion from that Garden, and man (in a general sense—NC) was left to his own way (i.e. until the giving of the Law, which began with the Decalogue—NC). This in a strict sense could not be called a dispensation, for man was left to himself; but for our purpose we shall consider it as a special period. Here man showed himself to be utterly lawless—so much so that God destroyed all except Noah and his family with the Flood.
c) After the flood, God put government into the hands of man, and decreed, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen 9:6); but then man turned to idolatry. See Romans 1 for the manner in which they turned to the worship of that which their hands made—images made like to men, to birds, to quadrupeds, to creeping things (or back to the serpent). d) Out of this prevalent condition of idolatry which came in when man gave up the traditional knowledge of God acquired through Noah’s posterity, God called the man Abraham and made a covenant with him; but he soon denied his wife and had to be reproved by a heathen (Gen 12:18; Gen 12:19).
e) After God’s allowing Abraham’s descendants to be enslaved in Egypt, He sent the man Moses to bring them forth; but ere long the children of Israel said, “Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” f) At this time the Israelites had covenanted to obey which God would speak, and put themselves under the conditional agreement of keeping God’s Law (Exo 19:8). While Moses was away receiving the Words of God for them, they made the golden calf. g) God raised up the priesthood for Israel, but, as soon as it was instituted, it failed; and two of Aaron’s sons died the first day for offering “strange fire” (Lev 10:1, 2). It was more or less set aside in the days of aged Eli, for his sons had corrupted the people.
h) Afterward, God raised up a king David, “a man after His own heart.” But for a long time he was hunted and his life endangered, and his son Solomon brought idolatry into his own family circle (1Kings 11). After that, the kingdom was divided; and God had compassion on His people and sent messenger after messenger unto them, until the sins of Manasseh made judgement on them imperative. God brought a remnant back in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, but the prophet Malachi describes the sad condition into which that remnant sank. j) Finally, God sent His only Son, saying (in typology—NC), “They will reverence My Son,” but Him they cast out and slew. This is a very brief outline of man’s pathway of failure from the first Adam to the Last Adam.
In this period which we live, God has been dealing in great grace and beseeching men to be reconciled to Him (2Cor 5:20). The Gospel first went forth from an ascended and glorified Christ to the Jews, or, as John Bunyan called them, “Jerusalem sinners.” The message was to begin in the very place where the Lord was crucified. Then the book of Acts outlines the carrying of the message from Jerusalem and Judea to Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. Acts 1:8 is in substance a table of contents of Acts.
After Stephen’s death, the scenes began to change, for Israel has now rejected the Gospel sent down from heaven in the power of the Holy Spirit. From place to place through Acts, the Jews were given the Gospel first (“to the Jew first” - Rom 1:16; 2:10); but when they rejected it, it was then given to the Gentiles until, at length, in the last chapter, the sentence of judicial blindness (Acts 28:26), foretold by the prophet Isaiah (6:9), was place upon them; and Paul said to them, “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will hear it” (v 28).
We are now living in the end of the period of God’s special grace to the Gentiles; it is spoken of as “the fullness of the Gentiles” in Romans 11:25.Their fullness will come in when the Lord calls His Church home to be with Himself. For this blessed moment we wait. God has been visiting the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name (Acts 15:14), but they are a people destined for heaven. We should, however, keep in mind that in the Church of God there has always been a saved remnant of the Jews. At the first (Acts 2:47) only Jews or Jewish proselytes were brought into the Church. Already a man had been saved (Acts 9) who was to be the Lord’s special messenger to the Gentiles.
Strictly speaking, the Church period is not a dispensation in the sense of an administration of God’s way on earth, but a gathering out of a people for heaven; however, we shall consider it as a special period of God’s way while He makes known His purpose and plans not only for them, but also for the earth. He has treated us in this age as His “friends” (Jn 15: 14, 15). Perhaps we should consider the Church period as merely a long parenthesis in God’s ways “for” the earth (i.e. but not “on” the earth, for it is my belief that Christ and his will rule the new earth from the new heaven, but not dwell on it—NC).
When the Church has been translated to heaven, then God’s ways (of which Israel will be the center on earth) will begin to unfold, and a time is to follow, called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30:7). He (remnant of Israel) will be saved “out of it,” like Noah was saved out of the Flood, while the Church has been promised by the Lord that it will be kept out of the hour of it—altogether kept from the time of it (Rev 3:10), as Enoch was taken away before the Flood came. For the “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (the nation Israel—NC) will also be “the great tribulation” which “shall come upon the whole world.”
After the Rapture of the Church, apostasy of both Christendom and Judaism will mount up to their peaks to receive the judgements already decreed. The spirit of apostasy has been at work as a mystery since the days of Paul, for he speaks of “the mystery of iniquity” (2Thes 2:7); and John wrote that there were already many “antichrists” (1Jo 2:18). But the thing, although far advanced, will not be full blown until we are taken from the scene. Then there will be the attempted complete overthrow of all reverence for God, and even the mention of His name. It will be man in daring infidelity who will blaspheme God. Man will be deified, but overthrown in the end. Apostate Christendom and apostate Judaism will perish, while a remnant will be saved for the Kingdom.
—Paul Wilson (1899-1966)
MJS devotional for June 30
NO CROSS, NO CHRIST!
“WHOSOEVER DOTH NOT BEAR HIS CROSS, AND COME AFTER ME, CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE” (LUKE 14:27).
One hears much today about “body life,” with its emphasis upon New Testament gathering, rather than Christ-centered growth. The Body is meant to manifest the Head, and that necessitates spiritual members. -MJS
“Where there is no Cross there is no life, and no ministry of life. The object of suffering is that there may be a full and abundant ministry. . . . We are not to invite trouble, nor by austerity to ill-treat our bodies. The Holy Spirit Himself takes responsibility for our experience, leading us in paths where we encounter, in body, heart, or spirit, that measure of ‘the dying of Jesus’ that will mean enrichment of our ministry.”
“There are many today who seem to think that it is all or largely a matter of the order, technique, and form, and if we are to return to the ‘New Testament’ form or order of churches all would be well. The fact is that, while certain things characterize the N.T. churches, the Word does not give us a complete pattern according to which churches are to be formed!
“There is no blueprint for churches in the N.T., and to try to form such churches is only to create another system which may be as legal, sectarian and dead as others. Churches, like the Church, are organisms which spring out of life, which life itself springs out of the Cross of Christ wrought into the very being of believers. Unless believers are crucified people, there can be no true expression of the Church.” -T. A-S.
“GOD FORBID THAT I SHOULD GLORY, EXCEPT IN THE CROSS” (GAL. 6:14).