God’s Division: Dispensations

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God’s Division: Dispensation

One of the greatest failures in the modern church today is the belief that all Bible’s are the same. As we have looked in previous studies, if there is One God, and He so closely identifies Himself as His Word (John 1:1, 14 “past”; 1 John 5:7 “present”; Revelation 19:13 “future”), then there must be One Word (they all don’t say the same thing, you need only compare them verse by verse).

That’s a side note, only to leap frog to the next point, that in our modern church today; there is a secondary hindrance to understanding the Bible, and that is “Dispensations” (Ephesians 1:10, Colossians 1:25).

What Is A Dispensation?

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines it as: “Distribution; the act of dealing out to different persons or places. Said differently, a Dispensation is simply a set of commands or instructions given to a group of people for a time. Put more biblically, a Dispensation is God giving instruction to a group of people for a period of time.

What Point Are You Making?

In order to correctly divide the Word of God, you need to ensure you know who God is talking to and what He requires. One of the biggest mistakes we can make, is believe that as God spoke to Adam, He speaks to us; or what God required from Israel He requires from us. There is some truth and principals that can be applied, but in reality, when God said to Adam “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17) – that couldn’t possibly be for us “literally”? How would we keep that command?

However that instruction was to Adam and it was for him – in regards too how he could continue to have eternal life. But as we know – Adam ate of the fruit of the tree and was soon cursed by God. He did not die spiritually; but death passed upon him (Romans 5:12) – he lost eternal life (Genesis 3:24). Now if it isn’t obvious enough, God’s instructions to Adam is different from ours today, as he was not conceived of a woman and being the first created of men (or the first Adam) by God.

So what’s the point? The point is that in reading our Bibles we need to acknowledge the different ways God deals with groups of people, and His different instruction to them, so as to not apply an instruction for another to ourselves. Imagine in a time of war your Colonel leaves you with a letter of instruction on his desk, vital to yourself and the safety of your men, as you embark onto enemy territory. A most vital instruction wouldn’t you agree? But instead of picking up the right letter, you pick up another meant for a separate battalion with a different timing, which then leads to the death of hundreds of your soldiers – all because the instruction was not meant for you. Do you see the necessity of instruction, it’s timing, and it’s audience; this heeding of instruction is called a “Dispensation”. Loosely speaking a dispensation has the following characteristics: God’s Instruction in regards to Salvation (Eternal Life) for the people of that period God’s Instruction in Regard to Morality (I will skip (b) for sake of length) God’s Character (that is, in every dispensation, a part of God’s character is revealed or emphasized)

An Overview of The Dispensations:

This is an overview to the dispensations which is broken down in 8 parts across the entire Bible. In each part or Dispensation, God deals with man differently, expects something different from Him and gives clear instruction for salvation (eternal life), that is different in itself. Two theme’s remain the same through the entire Bible however; (a) Only through Jesus Christ can sin be ‘removed’. That is in certain dispensations, “works” or “keeping God’s instruction or law” may lead to salvation; that is, the promise of eternal life; but eternal life is only given or attained upon belief (faith) in Jesus Christ and His death on Calvary (Matthew 26:28) (b) Secondly, through every dispensation, “Faith” in God is a requirement (Hebrews 11:7).

Age of Innocence (Genesis 1-3) [Time of Adam] Salvation: Faith + Keeping God’s Instruction (do not eat fruit of the tree of good and evil) God’s Character Emphasized: God’s Goodness (creation)

Age of Conscience (Genesis 3-12) – [Time of Noah] Salvation: Faith + Keeping God’s Instruction (obeying conscience and instruction from previous generation) God’s Character Emphasized: God’s Long suffering

Age of Government (Genesis 12-Exodus 20) – [Time of Abraham] Salvation: Faith + Keeping God’s Instruction God’s Character Emphasized: God’s Just

Age of Promise (Exodus 20-Matthew 26) – [Time of Moses] Salvation: Faith + Keeping God’s Instruction (Ten commandments) God’s Character Emphasized: God’s Faithfulness

Age of Law (Matthew 26- Acts 2) – [Time of Jesus] Salvation: Faith + Keeping God’s Law + Sacrifices God’s Character Emphasized: God’s Holiness

Age of Grace (Acts 2 – Revelation 4) [Time of the Apostles] Salvation: Only Faith God’s Character Emphasized: God’s Grace

Age of Tribulation (Revelation 5-19) [Time of Judgement] Salvation: Faith + Keeping God’s Instruction God’s Character Emphasized: God’s Wrath (anger)

Age of the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 20-22) [Jesus’ Physical Reign on this Earth] Salvation: Faith + Keeping God’s Instruction God’s Character Emphasized:God’s Righteousness

Now this may seem rather vague to you perhaps, but it demands a little study, and a little opening of one’s eyes as you read the Bible – understanding that when God speaks, how necessary it is to know, to whom is He speaking, and in what dispensation? That way, you can better understand the bible, and secondly, not misapply an instruction meant for someone else.

God bless you in your desire to understand Him more.

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God’s Man: Principals To Live By

“Now the LORD is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

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While completing a very good book recently, called The God-called Preacher, the author ended with these wise-words from one of the great preachers/men of our time, Bob Jones Senior. 


Every person as they grow in their walk develop ‘principals’ based on scripture, that speaks to their lives and the path they walked with Jesus and it becomes indelible – and more so it becomes personal. They become the heart of the man and woman, and their guiding force to put it loosely; I have my own list (however small), but this one is worth sharing and taking note off:

  1. “The Greatest Two Words in the English language are ‘DO RIGHT’” (Genesis 18:25; 1 Peter 3:14; James 1:22)
  2. “It is never right to do wrong to get a chance to do right” (see Acts 16:17-18 and 2 Kings 5:22-27 for examples)
  3. “The right road leads out at the right place” (Matthew 7:14)
  4. “It is never a compromise to go as far as you can along the right road with ANYBODY; it is always a compromise to go ANY distance on the wrong road with anybody” (see 1 Kings 22:4; 2 Chronicles 20:37; Ezra 4:1-3)
  5. “Finish the Job” (see above)
  6. “It is a sin to do less than your best” (see above)
  7. “Prepare for the worst” (Ephesians 6:10-17; 2 Timothy 3:1-8) and hope for the best” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, 1 Peter 1:3,13,21; James 5:6-11)
  8. “Make sure your ‘convictions’ are not just ‘prejudices’” (see 1 Corinthians 11:14-16 and Romans 14:2,5-6, 13)
  9. “The best preparation for tomorrow is to do what you ought to do TODAY” (see above)
  10. “The man in this life who is a success is the man that finds out what God wants HIM to do and does it” (see Romans 12:1-3 and Colossians 4:12)
  11. “Duties never conflict” (see 1 Corinthians 14:33; James 1:8; Acts 8:7-8,26).
  12. “Never sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate (see Hebrews 12:16-17; Genesis 13:9-11; 2 Timothy 4:10)
  13. “No doubt the trouble is with YOU” (see Romans 14:12; Matthew 7:1-5)
  14. “At the root of every doubt there is some kind of sin” (Matthew 14:31; Luke 18:8; Romans 14:23; Hebrew 11:1,6; Matthew 8:10)
  15. “Do right, though the stars fall” (Daniel 6:10-13, 1 Peter 3:13-17; Jeremiah 20:7-9; and John the Baptist in Mark 16:18)

 

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God’s Word: A Quick Survey of the New Testament

 

“Now the LORD is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17)


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God’s Word: An Overview

One of the greatest aids in growing your relationship with Jesus Christ is having perspective and understanding of that which you read in God’s Word. A survey or an overview of the Bible is essential to a Christian to give context to that which is being read, but also so that he/she can know where to find help or guidance based on the theme of the book. Here is a very basic survey of the NT:

 

Matthew: Written from the view of Jesus Christ as King. The Theme is to convince the Jews that Jesus of Nazareth was their Messiah (King). Author: Matthew


Mark: Written from the view of Jesus Christ as Servant. The Theme is to present Jesus as servant with a focus and appeal to the mind of Romans. Author: Mark


Luke: Written from the view of Jesus Christ as Son of man. The Theme is to present Jesus as the Perfect man (His humanity), with an appeal to Greeks of the time. Luke the author, records more parables than all the other 3 (Matthew, Mark, John).


John: Written from the view of Jesus Christ as God. The Theme is to show Jesus Christ’s relationship with His Father. Author:Written by John


Acts: This is a Book of Transition (change) from Old to New Testament. It is in Acts 2 where the CHURCH is conceived & the New Testament begins. Written by Luke.


Romans: A book among books that contains our greatest doctrines (truths). It gives truth about our salvation (Romans 1-5), about our victory over sin (Romans 6), and what God requires from us (Romans 8-16). Author: Written by Paul.


1 & 2 Corinthians: 1 Corinthians is Paul writing to correct the Church at Corinth about their sin’s. 2 Corinthians however –  is Paul writing to comfort them.


Galatians: Written by Paul, the theme of this book is Christian Liberty, that is freedom from religious service and the law of the Old Testament.


Ephesians: Also written by Paul – it sets forth the eternal purpose of God in Christ and shows the heavenly calling of the Church and the unity of the body.


Philippians: Written by Paul – this is the book of JOY in the Christian Life – Christ as our Life (Ch. 1), our Example (Ch. 2), our Goal (Ch. 3) and our Strength (Ch. 4).


Colossians: Written by Paul – this books set forth the glory and pre-eminence of Jesus.


1 & 2 Thessalonians: Written by Paul – 1 Thessalonians focuses on Jesus Christ’s Second Coming (when He comes back again to Comfort). 2 Thessalonians focuses on Christ’s Second Coming but in Judgement after the Rapture (taking away) of the Church.


1 & 2 Timothy: Written by Paul – These are Pastoral epistles (written to Timothy a Pastor). 1 Timothy focuses on Qualifications of Leaders in the Church (truth), and 2 Timothy focuses on Sound Doctrine and the importance of Study.


TitusWritten by Paul – Another Pastoral epistle (letter) written to Titus a young pastor like Timothy but at a church in

Crete. The instructions are similar to that seen in Timothy.


Philemon: Written by Paul – This is a Prison Epistle (when Paul was in prison), and is a book whose theme is reconciliation.


Hebrews: Written by Paul – and like Colossians, the emphasis here is the supremacy and contrast of Jesus Christ, to the prophets, priests, angels, Adam, Moses  and Abraham.


James: Written by James (brother of John), and is the book of faith and works.


1 & 2 Peter: Written by Peter – 1 Peter focuses on the trials that we will face in the Christian life, and 2 Peter aims to encourage the Christian and warn of false teachers.


1, 2 & 3 John: Written by John – 1 John (book of love), 2 John (book of truth) and 3 John (book of assurance of salvation)


Jude: Written by Jude – deals with Apostasy and Apostates (bad doctrine)


Revelation: Written by John- last book which deals with end times. It is Prophetic as it tells of God’s impending wrath upon those who reject Jesus Christ; remembering the Church is not involved as they are raptured away by this time.


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God’s Word: Real World Application

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Previously we looked at how God’s Word is Perfect which is pivotal to what we are going to look at today, so please review if necessary.The onus of today’s discussion however is that which the modern day Christian struggle’s with and that is the real-world application of their Bibles. There is so much Christian material – books, DVD’s, internet articles and tons of mp3 sermons online, and there is nothing wrong with that. However these things have become our ‘sustenance’ as opposed to the Word of God. That is, we see the Bible as just a ‘book’, and look for external sources to aid us in our trials, in that which we struggle with, while even considering or exploring psychology, a unbiblical approach. Our source for all things in this life then, is not Christ; but mediums through which we can experience Christ.

 

What We Do:

Christians today are found in a world that is ever-demanding, from media, to their jobs, friends, family and not to mention the Church. With all this pull, the Christian finds himself or herself, unsure and perplexed on how to manage all of this, or even to cope. Added to that is our own personal struggle with our ‘flesh’ and it’s demands, or put simply, our habitual sins.

 

And so, we go out looking for ways to survive and cope. We listen to the preaching on Sundays, but find it demanding even more from us. We search the Internet – passing in various keywords into Google to try and find something relevant or some other Christian who is going through the same difficulty as us. Perhaps our marriage is falling apart, or has reached a state, where both partners are in the ‘blame game’, and in wanting to save it, they resort to Christian psychologists or even modern day Freudian psychology. If you notice the pattern above, and I am sure you can identify, the intent of the heart is RIGHT, but it’s misdirection. How so?

 

What We Should Do:

Simply because unconsciously or by intent – we don’t believe the Bible can provide ‘real-world application’ to where we are at and what we are struggling with. And the reason we feel that way is because it’s not easy to get the answer – and so much so because we want the answer quickly. We’re not willing to ‘dig’, to allow God’s truth to permeate our lives, to spend time in prayer, to spend time studying God’s Word, and that is because we’re too busy, or too distracted. Why should I search for an answer to something, that someone has written about or already solved? That’s the approach.

 

This is not wrong in a sense, but what we do miss out on when we do this; that is for the opportunity to have our minds renewed by the reading of God’s Word, we miss the opportunity for us to learn the lesson ourselves, and far more, we miss the opportunity to build on our relationship with Jesus Christ. If in trial, we are searching the Bible for answers, pleading before God in prayer – through that process of taking our real world problems to Him – we start to grow in FAITH, to start to develop a dependence on God ALONE, and we start to gain a confidence in HIM (despite the harshest of storms).

 

The reasons people backslide or eventually leave Churches, or move away from Christianity despite having a head full of knowledge of Bible truth and doctrine, is that they never learnt by themselves, “How to get a hold of God”. That is, they never learnt, how to depend on Him fully for the answer to all their problems, and not just for the solution, but more so for strength to PUSH through and to carry on. Here are some verses to support the argument; (a) Psalm 27:14 (b) Psalm 119 (c) Proverbs 30:5 (d) Philippians 2:16


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