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The Folly of Dispensationalism

The fundamental basis for Pretribulationalism, the teaching that before the seven-year tribulation begins, the New Testament era saints will be raptured to heaven, undergo the Bema Judgment and then return with the Lord seven years later, is "Dispensationalism." Pretribber and Baptist minister, Clarence Larkin, wrote a book entitled, Dispensational Truth, which I read as a young Christian minister and accepted it as "truth" as well as the works of other dispensationalists - Darby, Scofield, Walvoord, Chafer, etc. to name a few. The writings of these well intended scholars formed my eschatology for many years; 25 to be exact. Consequently, I taught Dispensational Pretribulationism as the gospel truth until I was led by the Holy Spirit (personal revelation) to see the folly of such doctrine. Dispensationalism is a clever man-made eschatological program to sway nominal Christians (those who do not have an in-depth knowledge of prophetic truth; that would be about the majority of professing Christendom) to accept the secret rapture doctrine as the teaching of the Bible and the early Church fathers. In this series of articles on Dispensationalism, I will prove that to be inaccurate on both counts.

Well, what is Dispensationalism?  Although there are variations of Dispensationalism, traditional dispensationalists divide "time" into seven unequal periods, that is, from the creation of Adam to the new heavens and new earth. They refer to these periods as dispensations. The inventors of this bogus doctrine portend that each specific period has a "boundary" whereby God changes the way He has dealt with mankind in respect to sin and man's responsibility to God for his sinner-hood.  They claim dispensational teaching reveals how God has tested natural man in each new era proving his utter failure to live up to God's standard of righteousness and ending in judgment. The seven so-called dispensations (five which they say have been fulfilled; one is in progress and drawing to a close; and one is yet future) are as follows:

1. Innocence - the period from the creation of Adam to the fall and expulsion from the Garden of Eden; thus the first failure of man and the resulting judgment - driven from the Garden and placed under a curse.

2. Conscience - the period from the expulsion to the flood; since their was no official government in the pre-flood world, mankind was guided solely by his conscience to know good and evil and to act morally and responsibly both to his fellow man and to God. They cite Romans 1:19-23 as evidence for this period; however, man failed again resulting in the judgment of the flood.

3. Government - the period from Noah to the tower of Babel or human government; in this alleged era, God gave Noah the responsibility to govern the earth and man again failed by trying to form an independent order separate from God; therefore, God judged the works of man at the Tower of Babel with the confusion of tongues. This is really a silly argument for dispensational doctrine since government is still with us having been instituted by God for the preservation of societies (See Romans 13). If Dispensationalism were factual, then this era would still be in existence. What is needed is for people to "think" (use their brains), even use logical reasoning to see through such nonsense and not get caught in the clever machinations of theologians that have an agenda.

4. Promise - the period from Abram to the bondage in Egypt; dispensationalists claim that God in His grace and mercy decided to call one man, Abram, in order to enter into covenant with him and thereby set the stage for a future deliverance from sin and oppression; thus a promise. The covenant of promise contained both unconditional and conditional elements; the unconditional promise was the coming of a future deliverer from Abram's seed - offspring, as well as a future kingdom for his descendents; (Note: Is there not a covenant of promise in Genesis 3:15 where God promised that the seed of the woman [Eve] would crush the head of Satan? therefore to divide time up into a specific era based on a covenant of promise is ludicrous since the whole content of Sola Scriptura is one of promise - that God would bring heaven to earth and in the process offer mankind His plan of salvation - the cross and resurrection). The conditional part of the covenant was based on the faith and obedience of the Israelites, which they failed to do, so God placed them in the judgment of Egyptian bondage. Even though they were referred to as Israelites during this so-called era, they had no official nation status; that would not take place until they entered the land of Canaan and established the kingdom monarchy.

5. Law - this period extends from the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai during the wilderness wanderings to the coming of Jesus in His first advent (Jesus said the Age of Law ended with John the Baptist (Matt. 11:13); therefore, there was a brief hiatus of 3 1/2 years until the new age of Pentecost in Acts 2. This also makes it rather dubious to slice up "time" into these specific periods when there were obvious gaps in the so-called dispensations; for example, in the alleged period of Government - Noah to the Tower of Babel to the next period of Promise, there was a gap of some unknown years as Babel was judged in Genesis 11:19, but God did not call Abram until chapter 12. Obviously from the context of Genesis 11 to Genesis 12, Abram had been living in the Ur of the Chaldees with Sari, his wife for sometime; therefore, what dispensation covered that period? This is the typical problem created when theologians try to force a doctrine into the Word of God to support their eschatological program. As we say in Texas, that old dog won't hunt.  According to Dispensationalists, the law ended when the Israelites failed to obey it resulting in a divided kingdom - the Northern kingdom with Samaria as its capital and the Southern kingdom with its capital at Jerusalem - and the destruction of both kingdom's by the Assyrians and the Babylon's in 746 B.C. and 606 B.C. respectively; thus the beginning of the Diaspora with a final judgment and dispersion in 70 A.D. by the Romans. Once again, there is an overlapping of so-called dispensational periods for if the dispensation of Law ended with John and the new era of what they call "Grace" began with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, there is at least a 40-year period when the temple remained in Jerusalem and the Jews were still practicing the Law (from 30 A.D. to 70 A.D.). It seems that Grace and Law were co-mingled during that transition period. In fact, which I will cover in other articles, Grace has always been in the world beginning with Adam and Eve to the present time. In addition, the Law of God has not been totally abolished - only the ceremonial part dealing with animal sacrifices and the keeping of certain days and festivals since Jesus fulfilled all the Law. He said that He did not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it. Law and Grace work together in God's plan of salvation for it is by the Law that we have the conviction of sin. The Holy Spirit works through the Law to bring conviction to lost humanity, as well as applies the grace of forgiveness in the blood atonement of Jesus. The more I studied Dispensationalism, the more I realized what a ludicrous doctrine it really is and how it confuses the plain teaching of the Scriptures.

6. Grace - Dispensationalists claim this period began with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus in which man is offered the unmerited favor of God (grace) for the forgiveness of sin instead of requiring righteousness under the law. There is a major problem with that premise. God never required righteousness under the Law; righteousness has always been based on the promise of God via the medium of faith. The book of Romans is devoted to this truth, that is, that righteousness was never by the Law, but by the promise of God in Jesus Christ. While the Law of God is both good and righteous, it was never the means of God's grace and forgiveness (See Romans 3:20-31; 7:12-25; Galatians 3:21-29). In addition, dispensationalists teach the era of grace will end by God's judgment on an unbelieving world and an apostate Church preceded by the removal of Church Age (New Testament) saints in the so-called secret pretrib rapture; then the saints will return with Christ after the period of judgment (tribulation) to establish the seventh era - the kingdom, which will be primarily Jewish with the Gentile nations in a subordinate role serving the Jewish monarchy. This is total heresy and there is no wonder there is an attitude of Anti-Semitism among Gentiles when they hear this taught.

7. Messianic Kingdom - the following I copied from a Dispensationalist's website so you could see in their own words how they view the Messianic Kingdom of Jesus Christ:

After the purifying judgments which attend the personal return of Christ to the earth, He will reign over restored Israel and over the earth for one thousand years. This is the period commonly called the millennium. The seat of His power will be Jerusalem, and the saints, including the saved of the dispensation of grace, namely the church, will be associated with Him in His glory. (See Isa. 2:1-4; Isa. 11; Acts 15:14-17; Rev. 19:11-21; Rev. 20:1-6.

But when Satan is "loosed a little season," he finds the natural heart as prone to evil as ever, and easily gathers the nations to battle against the Lord and His saints, and this last dispensation closes, like all the others, in judgment. The great white throne is set, the wicked dead are raised and finally judged, and then come the "new heaven and a new earth." Eternity is begun. (See Rev. 20:3,7-15; Rev. 21 and 22.)

It is clear that the dispensationalist foresees the coming kingdom of Christ on earth not as the Messiah's kingdom, but as a restored Jewish monarchy over which Christ reigns and rules. What about the Gentile nations? Will He not rule over them also?  Will the Gentiles be lesser human beings in the kingdom than the Jews? According to the Dispensationalists, that is the scenario. Why would Jesus reign only over a so-called restored Israel and not over all the nations - Gentiles included? If he is God and Lord of the earth, which He is, then he is Lord over all and will reign over all the nations both Jews and Gentiles. Even the Old Testament prophet Isaiah envisioned the millennium as a glorious kingdom in which both Jews and Gentiles are equally participants. (Read Isaiah 60-66 which clearly shows the future kingdom shall be equally glorious for both Jews and Gentiles under the reign of Jesus as King of the earth, not sitting on a Jewish throne ruling from a preferential Jewish monarchy).

Dr. Stephen Jones has a good teaching on Dispensationalism and I quote him below:

Dispensationalism teaches (emphasis mine) that the coming Age will be that of a Jewish Kingdom, which will be administered by Jewish law, including the re-instatement of animal sacrifices. Thus, the second coming of Christ will see a very Jewish Messiah - not one which the Jews will accept for who He is, but rather a Messiah that will be acceptable to Judaism.

This is rather interesting, because Jesus was nothing like this in His first appearance, nor were His views the least bit acceptable to the chief priests. He came, not as a great miracle-working general to overthrow the Romans, but as a humble servant who loved Romans as much as Jews.

The underlying destructiveness of Dispensational thought is that is destroys the unity of Scripture and establishes two different standards of measure in the world, along with two different plans of salvation. First, it destroys the unity between the Old and New Scriptures instead of seeing it as a single book with a progressive unfolding of the divine plan. Second,  it teaches that Grace is a temporary interlude that allows a 'few Gentiles' a window of opportunity to be saved apart from animal sacrifices. Third, it demands a reversion back to Judaism and to a very Jewish Kingdom in which God has preferential treatment of certain people based upon either their genealogy or their religion.

The "Age of Grace," then, is seen as a temporary respite from an Old Testament God, who is pictured as a vengeful, stern Judge of humanity. It is temporary respite in which the "better" covenant, "better" sacrifices, "better" priesthood, "better" promises are granted until we are to revert back to those Old Testament practices which are WORSE. This violates the whole spirit of the book of Hebrews--which, I might add, was written by HEBREW PEOPLE.

And so, Dispensationalism has established the mind-set that Jews are saved by the Law, while the "Gentiles" are saved by grace. This "Dual Covenant Theology" is being exposed by a number of preachers, though some of them (like John Hagee) actually deny it. They deny it, while at the same time affirming that Jews are in Covenant relationship with God apart from Christ. What covenant is that? Obviously, it can only be the Old Covenant, since it can hardly be said that adherents to Judaism are under the New Covenant.

I whole heartedly agree with Dr. Jones' position as stated above. Dual Covenant Theology is heresy of the highest order and keeping many Jews out of the Kingdom of God and consigned to the infernal regions. Evangelical Christians do the Jews no favor by appearing to sympathize with their Jewishness, the illegal state of Israel, and the so-called restored Jewish kingdom in the land of Israel with the third temple and re-instituted animal sacrifices.

There are two books that especially need to be studied and taught today to the Church - the book of Hebrews and the book of Revelation. For once you understand how the book of Hebrews nullifies the false teaching of two covenants and a future restored Jewish kingdom, then the book of Revelation will make more sense in regard to the "elect" (Pentecostal Age saints) on earth during the tribulation and Christ returning to them at the end of the tribulation and the close of the Pentecostal Age. The Lord has NEVER had but one "elect people" in the earth - the faithful of the Old Covenant and the faithful of the New Covenant. Both comprise the Bride that will be resurrected in the First Resurrection on the Posttrib Day of the Lord. Unless, you don't give Pauline theology any credibility concerning who is a true Jew and a true Israelite, it is clear a true Jew and a true Israelite are those, both physical Jews and Gentiles, whose sins have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ and have been joined to Him via the eternal Spirit into the spiritual Body of Christ - the "One New Man." This is the true Israel of God and the Judah Church (so named because the Lord is the Prince [head] of the real Tribe of Judah).

The Lord bless you.

Dr. Allen M. Barber, a bond-servant of the Lord Jesus Christ