The Messianic Dispensation
God's Plan for the Ages – Dispensations Lesson #14
June 24, 2014
"Father, we come to You this evening very grateful that we have You to rely on. That in prayer we can come before Your Throne of Grace and we can bring these requests and petitions; and Father, we know that You hear us. Father, we especially remember Jim and Nerice Birney. We pray for them at this time. We pray for strength for both of them. We pray that you might encourage them during this time from Your Word and be a true comfort to them through the comfort which you comfort them they will be able to comfort others. Father, we also pray for George Meisinger, for his wife Sandy, for the doctors who are treating him; that You would give them wisdom and Father, we continue to pray that he would be responsive to the treatment; but if not, we pray that he will honor and glorify You during this time of testing and time of illness. Father, we continue to pray for Chafer Seminary. We also pray for Camp Areté for some of the challenges they are facing as they pull things together during the last month before camp begins. We pray that you will provide for their needs. We are so thankful for the leadership that you have given them. Now Father, we pray for us as we focus on Your Word this evening; that we might be strengthened and encouraged by it. And that we come to understand Your plan, it gives us a better handle on what You have revealed to us in Your Word that we may understand it and interpret it correctly. We pray this in Christ's Name, Amen."
We are covering dispensations: God's Plan for the Ages. God has a plan and a purpose that He is working out through the ages. As we look at God's Plan for the Ages we talked about dispensation, defining it as an administration of God in human history; that in successive periods of time God administers human history according to different rules. Now when we think about a definition for dispensation, it focuses on this concept of administration because the English word dispensation, as we studied, translates the Greek word group based on OIKONOMOS, house law or OIKONOMIA, these words focus on the idea of administering or being a good steward, responsibility. These are at the very essence of what a dispensation is. Dispensationalism really isn't focused on how many dispensations there are. But as we look at dispensations we realize that there are ways to discern that God works through human history in different ways. Obviously, the most clear distinction is between the time before the cross and the time after the cross. So, if we look at the period before the cross, we know that it looks forward to salvation. There were promises and prophesies related to the coming of a Messiah referred to by the term "the Seed of the woman" in Genesis 3:15; and that term "the Seed" is a key term to watch as you move through the Old Testament (OT).
So we know there are at least two broad distinctions; the period before the cross, the period after the cross. When we look at the period before the cross we see that it can also be divided into two broad periods. Two broad ways in which God administered history:
1. After the giving of the Mosaic Law at Mt. Sinai. He is now administering human history via a steward, the Jewish people, and the standard is the Mosaic Law. Prior to Sinai things were different. But when we look at the period prior to Sinai, we see that there are a couple of distinctive events that take place.
a. First of all we have the fall of man that occurs when Adam sins. So we have a clear distinction between the period before the fall and the period after the fall. There is new revelation given immediately after the fall in Genesis 3. And what we have seen is that each of these shifts takes place when God gives some new revelation. Not all new revelation is related to this. It is revelation that is related to His administration of history. How He is governing human history. So we clearly have the period before the fall and the period after the fall.
b. We have the period before the period before the giving of the Mosaic Law and after the period of the Mosaic Law. But if we look at that period for the fall to the Mosaic Law we also see that there is another major event that happens that distinguishes how God administers history and that is the Noahic Flood. This worldwide Flood that wipes out all of the human race except for eight people, and if you work out the details on the populations, recognizing that people lived to be 850-950 years of age. You would have had ten to fourteen generations living concurrently rather than three or four. You would have a world population at the time of the Noahic Flood of around three to five billion people. So it is a very populated earth. Just imagine how many people would be on the earth today if everybody that had been born since AD 1000 were still alive. It would be a very crowded planet. So it was a very crowded planet, 2-5 billion people, and God destroyed everyone except for Noah and his family, eight people survived.
c. There is another event that obviously occurs between the Flood and the giving of the Law and that is the event that takes place when God calls out Abraham and He shifts from working through the entire human race to just working through Abraham and his descendants, so when we look at this, and of course that is marked by the giving of a new covenant. So what we see is a period in perfection in the Garden that changes with sin and there is new revelation.
d. Then there is another event that occurs at the Flood and then there is new revelation in the Noahic Covenant.
e. Then there is another event that occurs when God calls Abraham and there is a new covenant given. And then there is a new covenant given at Mt. Sinai, so each of these indicates that God is changing things.
And so as in the history of dispensationalism, as theologians began to work with this they observed these distinctions and sort of different fathers you might say of dispensationalism had different ways in which they set up these periods and most people don't look at things like this, so I thought I would put this little chart together, (see slide #3, Dispensational Schemes: Historical). It actually comes out of Dr. Charles Ryrie's book on Dispensationalism. We see four key individuals, theologians, Pierre Poiret, whose dates are 1646 to 1719, so he primarily flourishes during the late 1600s, the late 17th century. We have Isaac Watts, the noted hymnist, who wrote many, many hymns including When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. We have James Hall Brooks, who is a Presbyterian pastor in Saint Louis. He is influential on the last person on the board, Cyrus Ingersom Scofield, C. I. Scofield.
So we have these four individuals and I just wanted to point out how they broke history down:
Poiret said that you have a period from the Creation to the Deluge. So he doesn't see an obvious distinction we would all see in terms of the fall. Then from the Deluge to Moses, The Flood, he doesn't break it with Abraham; Moses to the Prophets, which is interesting; from the Prophets to Christ, and then he just referred to the present period as Manhood and Old Age; and then a future dispensation of the End Times or Millennial Kingdom as the Renovation of All Things. He doesn't have a clear set definition of what makes a dispensation a dispensation. This is one of the earliest schemes for breaking things down.
Isaac Watts came along and he recognized a clear distinction that occurs at the fall called the period before the fall Innocency, the period after the Adamical dispensation because Adam's obviously the beginner, the founder, the father of that dispensation. Then he broke the next dispensation down at Noah. So he is similar to the way we are breaking things down. He sees the Abrahamic dispensation and then the Mosaical dispensation up to the Cross and everything after that is just the Christian dispensation. He was pre-millennial. He is just not distinguishing that as a distinct dispensation.
Then we had James Hall Brooks, now there is somebody I left our in the middle because I did not have room to put it all on the slide, and that is John Nelson Darby. Darby is the founder, as it were, the first person to really systematize dispensationalism. His dates are roughly early 1800s to about 1870s and he is of Irish descent. He comes o England, gets educated, goes back as a lawyer; he enters into the Anglican ministry. He is very disenchanted with the liberal Anglican Church and goes through a bit of a crisis where he has got an injury. He is laid up and he reads through the Bible many times. As a result of that, he comes to his understanding that there are these distinctions in history. And also, he comes to a biblical understanding of the pre-tribulation rapture. I am not getting into this for that reason.
Then we have James Hall Brooks, an American Presbyterian, and he sees a breakdown at Eden during what Scofield will call Innocence; then a breakdown in the antediluvian period, which we usually Conscience now. He sees the whole period from Noah to Moses just as the Patriarchal period. He doesn't see a break with Abraham. Then he had the Mosaic period up to the Coming of Christ. Then the period from the Time of Christ to the present he really divides into two sections: A Messianic Age and the Age of the Holy Spirit. Now the reason I bring that in is because what I want to teach tonight is something that is not standard for dispensationalism. The question is: isn't there something unique and distinct about the time when Christ is on the earth, the period of the Incarnation, the period when Jesus comes to offer the Kingdom as the Messiah? And James Hall Brooks clearly saw there is a distinction in that period of time. There is something that is different about those three plus years of Jesus' ministry on the earth that is different from all the other dispensations. So we want to ask the question, is it legitimate to establish that as a separate dispensation?
Scofield has how many dispensations? Seven, he doesn't identify the tribulation in there at all, seven dispensations. Every now and then I joke and make jokes about dispensations and the numbers seven and they always fall flat. Ya'll don't know anything about dispensationalism. You've got seven days of creation; you've got seven dispensations, you've got seven of this and seven of that, everything is sevens or threes. They always look for these kinds of patterns, so that is just something that they do. They are just sort of locked into this number of seven dispensations. But even the Dallas Theological Seminary Doctrinal Statement only recognizes or identifies three distinct dispensations from Ephesians: the age before the Cross; the age after the Cross; and the future age of he Millennial Kingdom. They are not being definitive because dispensationalism is not determined by how many dispensations there are. But I think that with Scofield, Scofield really did focus on a criterion. Why did we say that a certain period is distinctively identified by an administration. What are those characteristics that set that apart so that we can say this is a distinct administration of God in human history?
So we want to look at that a little bit tonight. Now we have talked about the period of the Mosaic Law as a dispensation. Then we talked about the Covenants that were given during that period that will not fulfilled until the Lord returns to establish His Kingdom. Now there are some questions I have left hanging that came in on the New Covenant because we will definitely be revisiting that when we get to the time of the Millennial Kingdom and the characteristics of the Millennial Kingdom. I think that they are best answered when we look at the characteristics of the Millennial Kingdom. So I am putting that off until we cover the next couple of dispensations. So we have the end of the Law but when does the Law end according to Romans? When does the Law end according to Romans? Christ is the end of the Law. Is this at the Cross or is this at the Incarnation?
One of the things we have to remember in defining a dispensation is that when a new administration of God begins, there are some things that are dominant before that continue. And that there are some things that change. Some things stay the same, but something new is added; and it is the fact that something new gets added that is really the significant thing. I have wrestled with this for years going back and forth on understanding this. A couple of weeks ago I was sitting down for probably the 20th time reading through Dr. Ryrie's book on Dispensationalism and that is what really struck me is the point that he makes that what happens when there is an administrative shift, is that some things are the same, some things continue, but the critical thing is some things new are added.
So the real question it seems to me is that when we come to the Life of Christ, is there something new added; is there something new that is expected? What we see here are the basic criteria that Scofield set up for determining when a dispensation shifts.
(See slide #4)
1. The first thing is really a Person. Every section has a certain Scripture that is covers. There is a person; there is some key person or corporate group like Israel that is the focal point of that period of time. And of course, I think that we could say that Christ is.
2. Secondly, in terms of the Name, is there something that distinguishes this in terms of just nomenclature that we could use.
3. Third, is there New Revelation? Is there something new that is given? Now there is always new revelation. When Isaiah comes along he is giving new revelation that wasn't known to Samuel, or Elijah, or Elisa; when Ezekiel comes along he adds something. There is always the progress of revelation during the OT. But what this is getting at is God revealing something new about how He is administering human history; that is the key. Is there new information about God is administering human history?
4. Part of this involves a new responsibility. Is a new responsibility indicated? Is there something that man is responsible for or the steward is responsible for that is additional to what they were responsible for previously? So in the previous dispensation you have the dispensation of the Law; is there something new that the Jewish people, this would be under the Age of Israel; is there something new that the Jews would be responsible for in terms of this new revelation?
5. The next thing that Scofield identified is that each dispensation seems to have a test of obedience in relation to the new revelation and the new responsibilities. So can we identify a distinct test during the time of Christ's ministry that goes beyond what was expected prior to the Incarnation?
6. And then, is there a unique or distinct Failure that takes place that is in relation to the New Revelation, the New Responsibility and the Test?
And so, what we are trying to do is to see if there are significant enough differences during this period to indicate that God is administering history differently, or at least a component of it because remember, let's go back in time. We are going to get into our little timeless machine and we are going to zoom all the way back to about 2050 BC. God has just brought judgment, just about a 100 years before on the Tower of Babel. And God has scattered everybody by changing up their languages, so as soon as you started having the people speak 100 different languages it split everybody up into a 100 different groups and they began to all go off into their little sections where they could only be with people who understood their language. So you had everything split up and one group was part of the descendants of Shem, and you had one group that are the descendants of Terah and his son Abraham.
Now Abraham is living down in the southern part of what is now Iraq in Ur of the Chaldees and God appeared to him. He didn't appear to anybody else. There are other believers in the world at this time. Job lived some time during this time. We do not know where or when, but approximately the same time. It could have been a little bit later; it could have been a little earlier. There is no mention in the Book of Job of anything distinctively Jewish; there is no mention of anything in the Book of Job related to Israel, related to the promised land, related to Canaan, related to Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, related the Law or anything. So Job was probably the first Book of the OT written. Interesting enough it identifies the angelic conflict in suffering and I think that is for a purpose. That was the first thing God thought the people really needed to understand was the issue of the angelic conflict and suffering.
So God is going to speak to one person. Now there is probably a worldwide population by this time of maybe close to a million. But the only person who knows God is going to do something different is Abraham. He comes to Abraham and says I want you to leave your home, your family, and I want to take you to a land that I promise you and I am going to multiply your descendants and I am going to bless the world through you. He is changing how He is going to work through history. It changes in Genesis 12, but 99.9999% of the people in the world have no idea that anything has changed. Everybody else is now a Gentile. Abraham is the first Jew and everybody else is still operating under the previous administration. They don't know that anything has changed. So you have Abraham and Abraham is probably about 60 years of age when he receives that call. By the time he has Isaac he is close to 100 years old. He dies at 170 years. Isaac has children. You have Abraham's children, Isaac's children, Jacob's children, and you get down to about 1900-1850 BC and so you have had two or three hundred years go by before you start having a multiplication of the Jewish people. There are only 70 that go down to Egypt and they are not all Jews. That includes all the servants and anybody else that tagged along with them when Jacob and his sons went down with Joseph in Egypt.
XV. Messianic Age (see slide #5, What is a Messiah?)
F. Messianic Dispensation, nobody else in the world knows what is going on. That is my point. When God starts to work with Jesus, Jesus shows up in fulfillment of OT prophesy with a ministry that is focused on the house of Israel and the house of Judah. The rest of the world doesn't know that something new is happening. The rest of the world doesn't know that the Promised Messiah is now on the earth and has entered into human history; but just because the rest of the world doesn't know this that is not new in how God changes dispensations. It starts with one person with whom God has given new revelation and that shows how things change. So
I think there is a precedent for this. In terms of looking at this as a dispensation there is a key person and that key Person is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Messiah.
He is the focal point of history in the fullness of time, Galatians 4:4 says that Christ was born of a woman. This has been the focal point since Genesis 3 in preparation for human history the provision of a Messiah. There is a Name that we could give to this dispensation, the Messianic Age, because Jesus is offering Himself as the Messiah. So this is a key dispensational term; that this is the Age of the Messiah.
When we look at the term Messiah it comes from the Hebrew word mā•šî•aḥ. In the English it is just a transliteration, which means The Anointed One or Appointed One. The Greek counterpart to that is the noun CHRISTOS; it means the exact same thing, Anointed or Appointed One. There were a lot of people who were anointed or appointed to different things, but this becomes the primary term that is used to refer to the Seed of the woman, the One who will be the Son of David, the One who is called the Son of Man in Daniel 7; that this is the One Who God is going to bring into the world to save us from sin. Used in a number of passages in the OT (see slide #6):
Psalm 2:2 talks about the kings of the earth that will gather against God; this happens in the future. They will gather against the LORD and against His mā•šî•aḥ, against His Anointed in Psalm 2:2.
Daniel 9:25 also is a prophesy related to the coming of the Messiah and gives us bit of a timetable I won't go into, but he says, that you can know when the Messiah is going to come because the time of a future command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince is going to be a certain amount of time. So here you have a reference to using the term mā•šî•aḥto refer to the Promised One.
Daniel 9:26 says after the 62 weeks Messiah shall be cut off. So here it is again a term related to the Promised One Who will provide salvation for our sins.
(See slide #7)
Person: Lord Jesus Christ
Name: Luke 2:25-30
Luke 2:25, this is when Jesus is brought by Mary and Joseph into Jerusalem in order to present Him at eight days at the temple. And we read that "there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel." He is looking and expecting the Messiah. Why? How can he pinpoint it like that? Well he understood Daniel. There was a great Messianic expectation because there were many who understood the timetable given in Daniel 9.
Luke 2:26, and further, "it had been revealed to him through personal revelation by the Holy Spirit that he would not" die until He saw the LORD'S mā•šî•aḥ, the LORD'S CHRISTOS, the LORD'S Anointed One. So it clearly identifies the One that he is looking for as the mā•šî•aḥ. So I think a lot of times in the Gospels, if we translate Christ as mā•šî•aḥ we catch a better under understanding of its connection to the OT.
Luke 2:27-30, so the Holy Spirit leads him, "he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said "Now LORD, You are letting Your servant to depart in peace, according to Your Word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation."
Now Jesus' name is Yeshua, which means "Salvation." So what Simeon would have said in Hebrew was, "my eyes have seen Your Yeshua." So he is using Jesus' given name as he says this, and it goes on to say, "which You prepared before the face of all peoples, A LIGHT TO BRING REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, and the glory of Your people Israel, Luke 2:31-32
So he is recognizing that the Messiah has come. So what this does is it indicates to us that there is a new revelation given, which is Jesus, and a new responsibility given here which is to identify and accept the Messiah, which if you did like Simeon, but the majority did not.
New Revelation: I want to go back to the new revelation. I want to look at these passages that we have related to this new revelation in Matthew 3:2 and Matthew 4:17:
Matthew 3:2 we see that a new message is given, a new revelation is given. John the Baptist shows up and what does he say? "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Until John the Baptist said that no one had said that. That is a totally new message. The message to this point is that Messiah is coming sometime in the future. The kingdom is coming sometime in the future. The Messiah is coming sometime in the future. Now all of a sudden John the Baptist comes on board and says the Messiah is here. "Repent," heaven is near, it is at hand! It is almost ready! So that is a definite shift in the message. Jesus is the One that comes along and says the same thing as well when He begins His ministry.
Then we have passages like John 1:14 "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the Only Begotten of The Father, full of grace and truth." See what we see here is a totally new revelation of God, not just a new message, but a new message that is embodied in a Person. He is the fullest expression of Deity. That He dwelt among us and we beheld His glory. Not the glory that is indicated through like on the Mount of Transfiguration because the first miracle demonstrated His glory when He changed the water into wine. So John has a different view of the glory of God and it is expressive of His character. John goes on to say in John 1:18, "No one has seen God at any time; the Only Begotten God Who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. The Greek word for "declared" here is the word you've heard many times in its English form; it is the Greek word, EXEGETO, where we get our word EXEGESIS. He has "explained" the Father. It is only through the Lord that we understand the Father. He is the Incarnation of God so that by watching Him we can come to understand the Father. So we clearly have a new revelation given in this dispensation.
We have this new responsibility then to identify and accept the Messiah. He is making a Messianic claim and we have to understand that; and so this becomes the test to accept Jesus as the Messiah, Matthew 16:15-17. The context of this; you can turn there if you wish.
Test: To accept the Jesus as Messiah.
But if you look at Matthew 16; this is the context where Jesus has ask the disciples, well who do people say that I am? Matthew 16: 13, Jesus came to them in Caesarea Philippi and said, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" The Son of Man was a clearly understood Messianic title.
Matthew 16:14, And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah…
Matthew 16:15, He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" That is the key thing.
Matthew 16:16 Then Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah." He said, "You are the Christ." You are the Messiah, "The Son of the living God." He has accurately understood Who Jesus is. So this is the test.
The New Revelation is that Jesus is the Messiah; Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.
The New Responsibility is to identify and accept Him as Messiah.
The Test is to accept Him as the Messiah and to follow Him.
Failure: Now there is a Failure that comes along that the Jews both in terms of the leadership and the masses rejected Him. Now there were still tens of thousands that accepted Him as the Messiah, but not the majority and not the leadership, which represented the nation. Now you may like it or not like it, but every decision that our president and congress makes is your decision. We have a representative government and the decisions they make are your decisions. The votes that your congressman makes in congress are your vote. If you don't like it, throw him out; get somebody else. But if you don't get somebody else he is still representing your district and his votes are your vote whether we like it or not; that is what representative means. The leaders represented the people; they rejected Him.
John 1:10-12 talks about the fact that Jesus came into His own and His own received Him not. They did not accept him as the Messiah. Then the key passage to look at is in Matthew 12. Turn with me to Matthew 12. This is when everything changes. Up until we get to Matthew 12 there is an increasing hostility and antagonism between Jesus and the religious leadership; and it all boils over when we get to Matthew 12. And what happens is in Matthew 12:14 we are told that:
Matthew 12:14 "But the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him." He has just performed a couple of miracles on the Sabbath, violating their traditions, violating their law, and then when they challenge Him on that He shows that He is more consistent with the Law than they are and He is grace oriented. They don't even want Him to heal on the Sabbath. And so the response of Jesus:
Matthew 12:15 is that He "withdrew from there," but the multitudes follow Him, and He continues to heal on the Sabbath. And this is all evidence. It is described in the next few verses, which show that He is fulfilling the prophesies of the OT as the Messiah.
Matthew 12:22-24, And then he heals a demon possessed man. He cast out the demon and everyone is amazed and say can this be the Son of David? Is this the Messiah? And this is really irritating the Pharisees at this time. And so when they heard this they said man doesn't cast out demons except by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons. Beelzebub was just another term they use to describe Satan. It was just another sort of a nickname for Satan. That he is the one that cast out the demons; that Jesus uses Satan to cast out the demons. And Jesus knew their thoughts, in His omniscience, His Deity is in function not to solve a problem in His life, He still used His Divine attributes in areas to demonstrate that He was Who He claimed to be. He doesn't use His Divine attributes to solve the problems in His life. That is one of the most important things to understand about the Incarnation. Jesus is fully human and in His humanity He faces all the problems by handling them on the basis of the Word of God and the Spirit of God just like we do. That is why He is an example to follow. If He is handling His problems on the basis of His Divine omnipotence, we can't do that. There is no example to follow. But that doesn't mean that He disregards or never uses His Deity. Some people have gotten that idea. He uses His Deity to change the water into wine. He is showing them that He is the God-Man. And there are other times when He clearly accesses His omnipotence and His omniscience, because it doesn't have anything to do with solving His own personal problems in terms of His own individual spiritual life.
Matthew 12:25-31So He says He knows their thoughts and He says, "Every kingdom divided against itself." This would be the kingdom of Satan. He is clearly identifying that the Pharisees are part of the kingdom of Satan. Remember in John 10 He said you are of your father the devil. So here he is saying every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. He is showing that this is the evidence. That the kingdom is being offered in the Presence and Person of the Messiah Who is before you and if I cast out these demons by the Spirit of God, then that is evidence that the kingdom of God is in your presence. And then He says after this little interchange, therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven them.
Now this is an interesting passage, Matthew 12:31 that probably half of you are confused about because this is talking about an unforgiveable sin. But the first question we need to ask is this talking about absolute unforgiveable sin. Is this a sin that Jesus didn't pay for? Well there are too many passages that say Jesus paid for every sin. Jesus isn't talking about a forgiveness in terms of the absolute sense. If a person said one day Jesus cast out demons by Beelzebul, if that is non forgivable could that person change his mind the next day and be saved? Sure; that is what Grace is. Grace means that Christ paid for all sin. We are antagonistic like the apostle Paul and we murder Christians and we persecute the Body of Christ; is there still forgiveness? Yes there is in that absolute sense.
But what Jesus is talking about here is relative forgiveness. In other words, is there is a point of no return where the Pharisees have rejected Him as Messiah; is there a point where Jesus is going to say, okay, you've rejected Me and now it is solid. Now you are going to reap the consequences of your rejection of Me as Messiah and there is going to be Divine judgment now upon the nation because I have come to My people; they have firmly and finally rejected Me and judgment will come. That is what Jesus is talking about here. He is talking about the fact that this is when this hostility by the Pharisees finally comes to a head. They make their final and absolute decision to reject Jesus as Messiah and as a result of that Jesus is saying that the punishment on the nation as a result of that will be inevitable. That there will not be a relative forgiveness of the nation for this and it is set in stone now. You have rejected me as Messiah. You will eventually go out under the fifth cycle of discipline in AD 70.
It goes on to say in Matthew 12:32 "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come."
When is the age to come? If you are thinking the Millennium you are wrong. He is in the time period of the Age of the Law, the Age of Israel. He's in His dispensation, which is before the Cross. The next age to come is the Church Age. The Church Age comes after the Cross, after Pentecost; it is in the early part of the Church Age in AD 70 that Israel is destroyed as a nation and Jerusalem is destroyed as a city. This is talking about a temporal judgment, not an eternal judgment. It is when Jesus says firmly that your volition has set in stone now and you cannot be forgiven from this decision. In other words, temporally you will come under Divine judgment.
So this is what happens and this is why this is so critical. From Matthew 13 on Jesus no longer; nobody ever again says "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Nobody ever talks again about the kingdom of heaven being ready. Nobody offers them the kingdom again until when? We just studied this in Acts. Until after the ascension and then there is another offer. Now that offer if they had accepted it would not have done away with the judgment that was coming. It would have just compressed the ultimate fulfillment of the rest of prophesy. They still would have been destroyed by the Romans; that would have been part though of the destruction of Daniel's 70th Week and then there would have been a restoration of the nation. It would have been compressed. But they didn't repent; they didn't accept the kingdom offer in the early part of the Church Age and so we went on into the Church Age and we are still waiting for the Lord to return at the rapture.
(See slide #8)
So this is what is happening in terms of this as a dispensation. Now there is also a judgment as part of our criteria:
Judgment: Christ is judged at the cross. There is a judgment. There are two judgments actually.
1. The judgment of Christ being judged on the cross for the sins of the world.
2. There is the judgment of the nation Israel that is announced and will come about because they rejected Jesus as the Messiah.
But nevertheless, whenever there is judgment there is also grace.
Grace: is the ultimate provision of God's grace here in terms of salvation. He has sent the 2nd Person of the Trinity to die on the cross for our sins. He pays the penalties Scripture says, for all sin; for every sin including the sin of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. It is not unforgiveable in an absolute sense because other Scripture clearly teaches Jesus died for all sin. He paid the penalty for all sin so that all we have to do is trust in Him. There is eternal forgiveness. There were many of those Pharisees who were part of that group that rejected Him and later on in Acts 4-6 what do we find? We find that many Pharisees came to trust in Jesus as the Messiah. So this is not talking about their personal destiny in Matthew 12. It is talking about how their decision as the leadership of the nation sets the course inevitably to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Volition: Then finally what we see here is the volitional element that has to do with accepting or rejecting Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.
Angelic Conflict: And it has implication for the angelic conflict because Satan's strategic defeat occurs at the cross. He is still fighting. I think that strategically the Third Reich was destroyed at Normandy but it still took almost a year before they were tactically defeated. But strategically they could not recover once the Allied Troops had secured a foothold on the Normandy peninsula. It took another year though to clean everything up. There was still a lot of fight left in them. And that is the case we have with Satan. He is strategically defeated at the cross. He cannot recover from what Christ did on the cross, but he is not going to give up. He has a lot of fight left in him and he's still fighting and we are living in a period of an intensification of the angelic conflict. But during the time when Christ was on the earth there is intensified Satanic opposition unlike any other time in history, even today. We don't have the overt manifestations of demonism and Satanic opposition that you did during the time of Christ. And that is when you have all of this demon possession. And if you have other questions about that I encourage you to get my book in the back on Spiritual Warfare where we go into some of these details a lot more.
But the reality is, how many people were demon possessed in the OT? None; not one. How may people have a problem with demon possession in the Epistles? None. You have problems with demonic activity during the Gospels when Jesus is on the earth and you have problems with demonic activity and possession in the early part of Acts and after that there is no more mention of it. Not once in any of the Epistles is there any instruction from Paul or Peter or John on how to handle demon possession. Not one. If as the Epistles claim that they are the sufficient standard, the sufficient revelation for how to handle all the problems; for how a church age believer can handle every problem he faces in this life. There is a deafening silence about the problem of demon possession or direct demonic assault. There is something significant about that.
Now it warns about indirect demonic activity; that the world system is the expression of demonic thought and that Satan is our enemy and that he is going about as a roaring lion and seeking whom he may devour. But this isn't the same as what is happening during the period of the Incarnation when Christ is on the earth. That was a much greater manifestation that we saw during that period. So the angelic conflict is intensified to an extreme level during the three and a half years or so that Jesus is on the earth; and then things gradually die down and we are in the church age with a slightly different dynamic as we will see.
So this introduces then the dispensation of grace. Now I am going to stop here. We are going to come back and talk about the Dispensation of Grace next time. Actually I am going to take a couple of minutes and go through it because it is pretty quick and most of you will understand it.
G. The Dispensation of Grace, Acts 2:1-Revelation 19:21 (see slide #9)
1. First of all, the key person is Paul. Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles and Paul is the one who gives the greatest level of information about the present church age.
2. Name: It is called the Dispensation of Grace, John 1:17 that the Law was given through Moses; but Grace and Truth came through the Lord Jesus Christ. And in this dispensation grace is now displayed in a way distinct from earlier dispensations. There was grace from the time of the fall, but there is something distinctive about the manifestation of grace in this dispensation so that the Scriptures can say that Grace and Truth came through the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. The responsibilities are to accept the gift of righteousness, which God offers to all men through the Messiah at no cost; we don't do anything to earn it or deserve it. It is freely given to us by faith alone, Romans 5:15-18.
4. We see that there is a basic test and that is will man accept the free gift of God's grace and will man accept God's grace and sanctification. Those are the two issues. There is only one way to heaven and there is only one way to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
5. The Failure is that most will reject it in this dispensation. Most human beings since the time of Christ have rejected the Gospel. They have either rejected the general revelation of God in the heavens and turned to idolatry, or if they have heard the Gospel they have rejected it. The vast majority of human beings that have lived the last 2000 years have never trusted Christ as Savior.
6. There will be a judgment that comes after the rapture of the church on the human race, The Great Tribulation, known as "the time of Jacob's trouble." This relates to the angelic conflict because this is a time when God pulls out all the restraints from Satan, the Restrainer is removed according to 2 Thessalonians 2 and Satan just has a temper tantrum. And there is no period in human history that is worse than that period. It is also the conclusion to the Age of Israel.
So I am going to stop there. Next week we are going to get into some really tremendous material because as we start talking about the Church Age we have to go back to one of our favorite topics and that is understanding interpretation and it is a lead in to understanding some things that are a little more advanced with this dispensationalism then we will get to in probably three or four weeks. But we have to understand some things about the relationship of the OT to the NT and how the writers of the NT use the OT. You have gone through this with me some. I have expanded this more than I have ever taught it before and we are going to go through a lot of new material in the next couple of weeks. So you will enjoy that.
Did anybody have any questions? Maybe somebody here has some questions as well?
Question: I too have struggled with this timeframe, whether it is a separate dispensation or not. I have always used Matthew 11:13 and Luke 16:16 as stating that only the message changes, but not the administration. If this is a different dispensation, how do we reckon, for instance, when Jesus heals the leper and tells him to show himself to the priest and bring the gift that Moses commanded – clearly being subjected to the Mosaic Law (Matthew 8:2-4)?
Answer: The Mosaic Law is still in effect. Remember, when I defined this, specifically in light of that passage, that some things continue and some things change. Now when you go back to the OT models, when you look at the pattern of the change from the Age of Conscience before the Flood and after the Flood, there are only a couple of things that change in terms of the Noahic Covenant. You can now eat meat and you have the delegation of judicial authority to take human life in the case of execution, of murder. Those are basically the only things that really change; everything else in terms of patriarchal sacrifice, the focus on family and family worship, all of that stays the same going from the period before the Flood to after the Flood. A couple of things change. So the Mosaic Law is still operative. That is part of what stays the same; that this is a distinct dispensation, but there are clearly new things. There is a new revelation, a new expectation, a new responsibility, a new test. That is what makes it different. It is what is new that is added not the fact that the Mosaic Law continues is not significant. Other things have continued from one dispensation to another. I think that will help him work through this.
Question: What about the witch of Endor, she was not demon possessed?
Answer: No she was not demon possessed. She utilized a demon. But you don't have demon possession vocabulary used in the passage. In the passage it talks about a demonic voice would come up from the ground. It is not coming out of her. So she is demonic influenced just like Saul. Saul in the passage saw that the demon comes upon him comes to him, but it doesn't ever use the Hebrew preposition for "in". And when David comes and plays the harp to relieve Saul. It never says that the demon came out of him. It just left him alone.
Statement: He wouldn't be demon possessed anyway.
Response: No. He would not have been. But I am just saying hat that's the vocabulary that you have in the NT passages on demon possession are all related to a demon going into and out of, "he is cast out of," "he comes out of." There is that in and out vocabulary that is never used of anyone in the OT. So you don't have that kind of language. That was a good clarification.
Anybody else have any questions?
Question: In Matthew 12:32 "Anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this age or the age to come." He is addressing people who are under the Law?
Continues: And the next age is the Church Age, but further tonight you referred to the Messianic age.
Response: Excuse me?
Continues: You referred to the Messianic age. Many of us were taught about this period of time being the dispensation of the hypostatic-union.
Response: Right, right.
Continues: Is that actually a dispensation though?
Answer: Yes. I am using a better term. I am using it because Jesus didn't come to say I am the hypostatic union. Jesus came to say I am the Messiah. I think calling it the Messianic Age focuses on what the biblical message is. Now the important thing about this that I didn't stress yet, is that Jesus comes as the Messiah to fulfill the Messianic promises and prophesies and as we saw in Matthew 5:17-18. He is saying that I have come to fulfill the Law. So He fulfills everything before. It is like a hinge in history and everything before is fulfilled in Jesus, but Jesus sets the precedent for the future Church Age by His walk by the Spirit. So the precedent for the Christian life is not the Mosaic Law. The precedent for the Christian life is not the OT. It is the walk of Christ because we are in Him. He is our High Priest. That is the key element there that is what you are talking about with that Messianic age. It becomes a hinge dispensation. It fulfills everything before, but it sets the precedent for everything that comes after.
Question: It is not an age then?
Answer: It is not an age like the Age of the Gentiles or the Age of Israel. It is a dispensation in the Age of Israel. You have the dispensation of the Patriarchs or Promise. You have the dispensation of the Law; and then you have the Messianic dispensation, which is just covers three years. If you were a Jew and you lived outside the land of Israel, you probably knew nothing about anything changing because you did not hear that message. And that would not be any different from somebody who was living in Western Europe or North Africa or in Turkey, Asia Minor, when God calls out Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees. Everything changes with Genesis 12:1, but the only person who knew it was Abraham. So just because there is a change doesn't mean everybody in the world has to know about it. Just the key person knows about it. Does that help? I am trying to refine and clarify this a little bit more.
Comment: I totally understand what you mean by the hinge in the age.
Response: See this is wasn't something new; that is why I bring James Hall Brooks into it. You had others besides James Hall Brooks who thought that the time of the Incarnation was a distinct dispensation. What my issue is that Scofield came a long and since Scofield nobody has thought about these things anymore. In fact, I called up Mike Stallard or emailed him a couple of weeks ago and I said this would be a good topic for one of the dispensational hermeneutic study group meetings because everybody just assumes and nobody wants to rethink this framework that Scofield left. They just won't accept that and go on. But I think that according to the criteria that Scofield laid out; that if you look at each one of those categories, a very strong case can be made that this is a distinct dispensation: new revelation, new responsibility, new message, everything is there.
Alright, let's close in prayer. "Father, thank You for this opportunity just to reflect upon Your Word, to think about Your revelation, to try to understand it and make some sense and see how You have worked in history and how things change, but also how things continue. That above all things You have operated toward mankind with grace and the principle of salvation has always been by faith alone either in the promise of a coming Savior Who would Redeem us from sin or in the fulfillment of that promise looking to Jesus as the only object of our faith; that by faith alone in Him alone we have eternal life. Help us to think about these things that we studied tonight. In Christ's Name, Amen."