What is a Dispensation?
It is important to understand the biblical word "dispensation" (Eph 1:10; 3:2; etc.). When we speak of dispensations we are not speaking necessarily of time. Of course, a dispensation can be limited to time, but that is not its primary meaning.
A dispensation is a stewardship or an administration. Joseph was given stewardship over Pharaoh's house, for example. It is how things are run.
Two dispensations, then, can run simultaneously. There are laws in England and laws in France. They are independent yet not mutually exclusive. That is, it is illegal in both nations to murder, but that does not mean all laws are the same.
If you leave France driving on the right side of the road, pass through the Chunnel, and then decide to continue to drive on the right side of the road in England, you will have gone from being lawful to being unlawful despite practicing the same action.
In some of my entries I have noted that Jewish believers functioned under different directives than did Gentile believers in the Acts age (while all were saved by grace). In recent posts, I have noted the difference between several "administrations."
Things in this age are different from the Acts age, and we saw last time that there is a group of believers who will be "guests at the wedding." This is a truth we need to apply in other areas as well.
ALL people in all ages and dispensations receive the gift of eternal life the same way: by grace alone through faith alone. But rewards and hopes differ between dispensations.
Our churches often teach "Old Covenant" and "New Covenant" as the only two separating administrations of God (even some Replacement Theologians who say they reject dispensationalism). It is believed that somehow all men were under the OC of works and now all believers are under the NC of grace (we have covered how both covenants are for Israel and how the NC is yet future eleswhere).
This is gross distortion of scripture and has done more damage to the cause of Christ than almost anything else within Christendom.
Obviously, hundreds and thousands of years before the OC was given in Exodus 19, no one could be under it. Paul said it could never save. And in Nineveh we saw an entire Gentile people spared by faith who had no concept of the Feasts and sacrifices required of Israel, for example.
The OC is for "the children of Israel" (Ex 19); The Gospel of the Kingdom is for "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt 10); and the NC is "with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah" (Jer 31; Heb 8). We must make these distinctions to truly understand the will of God. We must "rightly divide the word of truth" (2 Tim 2:15).
Today, throughout Christendom, truths from other dispensations are being dragged into the current dispensation. The Book of Matthew (a Jewish book given to Israel alone) is often the source of many of these errors. That is why we have been examining the Parables of Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount, etc.
We must distinguish the hope of the earth, the hope of the New Jerusalem, and the hope of blessings, far above the heavens. We must function under the present administration (the calling to which we have been called - Eph 4) and not fall into the trap of trying to function under other administrations.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh [Gentiles], He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.