Dispensationalism

My Journey Out of Dispensationalism

My friends have often heard me say, “The more I read my Bible the less dispensational I become.” This statement comes from someone who was spiritually nurtured in churches with dispensational theology, who graduated from a Christian university steeped in dispensational theology, who received his first graduate degree from a dispensational seminary, and who—for twelve years—preached sermons that reflected dispensational theology. For the first sixteen years of my Christian life, I rarely questioned the fundamental distinctions of dispensational theology. What are those distinctions? In his discussion of what he called the “sine qua non of dispensationalism,” Ryrie asserted:

A dispensationalist keeps Israel and the Church distinct …  This is probably the most basic theological test of whether or not a man is a dispensationalist, and it is undoubtedly the most practical and conclusive (Ryrie 44-45).

Later he concluded, “the essence of dispensationalism, then, is the distinction between Israel and the Church” (Ryrie 47).

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The Law

NickOfTime

Dispensationalists are sometimes accused of holding a contemptuous attitude towards God’s law. Sometimes this accusation is warranted. Certain versions of dispensationalism treat the law as irrelevant or even downright harmful.

While I am a dispensationalist, I do not share this attitude. When I read the New Testament, I find exactly the opposite view of the law. While legalism is condemned, the law itself is held up as a thing of glory, a thing that is holy and just and good.

Recent conversations have led me to look within and to ask myself, “How do I see God’s law? How do I feel about it?” In the following paragraphs I am going to try to answer that question. Therefore, this essay should not be taken as a normative statement. I am not arguing that my attitudes are exactly the correct ones. Rather, I am attempting a more-or-less phenomenological description of the attitudes that I discover within myself. Perhaps these attitudes need to be corrected—in fact, I am sure that they do. Both dispensationalists and non-dispensationalists are welcome to bring the Scriptures to bear so that my view of God’s law can become more accurate than it is now.

Before I describe these attitudes, however, perhaps I should say a word about the notion of “law.” In the narrower sense, I use the term to refer to the 613 commands and prohibitions of the Sinai code. These commands and prohibitions are of three kinds. Some of them directly reflect the immutable character of God. Others, while certainly consistent with God’s character, reflect His plan for Israel as a nation. Still other commands reflect God’s intention to prepare His people for the coming of His Son. These three categories correspond roughly to the ordinary distinctions between moral, civil, and ceremonial law.

When I approach the law, I do not begin by asking which part of it I must keep today. If I understand 1 Corinthians 3 correctly, even the Decalogue has been rendered inoperative as a rule of life. This abolishing of the law does not mean that I am free to live in any sinful way that I please. It simply means that the mechanism for progressive sanctification is not to be found in legal commandments. It is found in the Spirit.

The life of one who is led by the Spirit will reflect the fruit of the Spirit. That fruit results in a life that looks very much like law-keeping, even though the focus is not on the commandments. This is probably part of what Paul means when He says that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us who walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.

So, how do I perceive the law? When I look within myself, I discover that I respond to God’s law in several ways.

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The Mosaic Law and National Reconstruction

Note: This article is reprinted from The Faith Pulpit (January/February 1990), a publication of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary (Ankeny, IA).

by Ralph G. Turk, D.Min.
MosesThere is a movement today identified as Reconstructionism or Dominion Theology that has its roots in postmillennialism. It advocates establishing a theocratic kingdom in America based on the judicial laws of Moses. In fact, by its reasoning, the Christian is under a divine mandate to accomplish this end.

It has been popularized in recent years by Rousas J. Rushdoony in “The Institutes of Biblical Law” and Greg Bahnsen in “Theonomy in Christian Ethics.” Out of this has come the Chalcedon school which is a foundation that identifies itself as an independent Christian educational organization. Its viewpoint represents an exact opposite to the Biblical, dispensational position of fundamental Baptists. In essence, Reconstructionists argue the continuing and universal obligation of Old Testament Law.

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Could Christ Return in 2007?

by John C. Whitcomb, Th.D

The Biblical answer to this burning question is—yes and no! Yes, He could return from heaven at any moment now to meet His true church—His body and bride—in the air. And, therefore, no—He will not come down to the earth during the next 12 months. His return to the earth will occur seven years after the church has been caught up to heaven.

Why does the Bible make this distinction? Because the second coming of our Lord, just like His first coming, is a complex series of events covering a number of years. Think for a moment of the first coming. It began with the miraculous conception of the God/man in the womb of a Jewish woman about 4 B.C. Then came His birth, growth, public ministry, death, burial, resurrection and ascension back to heaven—requiring more than a third of a century.

So also, the second coming of Christ will cover a number of years, beginning with the resurrection of dead Christians and the rapture of living Christians (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Then, for the church, there will be a period of examination by her Bridegroom to determine gain or loss of rewards (1 Cor. 3:5-15), culminating in “the marriage of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:7-9, KJV).

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