DISPENSATION OF GRACE

Written by Renald Showers

posted by dtbrents

1) INTRODUCTION

Before the sixth dispensation is examined, several important truths concerning the grace of God should be considered. First, in the Scriptures the grace of God deals with far more than salvation from sin. For example, it was by the grace of God that Noah survived the flood (Gen 6:8), that Israel was restored to its homeland after the Babylon captivity (Ezra 9:8), and that the afflicted were sustained in their trials (Prov. 3:34). It is by the grace of God that believers are given spiritual gifts and ministries (Rom. 12:6, Gal. 2:9). Indeed, the grace of God has so many facets that Peter called it “the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet. 4:10).

[Showers, cont.]

“Although the grace of God was functioning throughout Old Testament times, it began to function in some new sense as a result of the ministry of Jesus Christ in His first coming. John indicated this when he wrote, “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). John appeared to be making this new function of grace parallel with the function of the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law never functioned as a way of salvation (Gal. 2:16), but it did function as a rule of life (a ruling factor). In light of this, John is saying that grace began to function as a rule of life (a ruling factor) as a result of Christ’s ministry in His first coming…

…Other passages indicate that grace began to function as a ruling factor as a result of Christ’s ministry. Paul wrote to believers in the present (sixth) dispensation, “ye are not under the law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). In this passage the function of grace which Paul had in mind is parallel with the function of the Mosaic Law. In other words, grace has now taken over the function which the Mosaic Law had in the previous dispensation. As noted earlier, the Mosaic Law never functioned as a way of salvation, but it did function as a ruling factor. Thus, the function of grace which Paul had in mind in this passage is that of a ruling factor. This is indicated further by the word under which implies being under rule. Paul was saying that believers in the present dispensation are now under grace, rather that the Mosaic Law, as a ruling factor. Thus, while grace continues to function as the way of salvation during this present (sixth) dispensation, it has assumed the additional function of a ruling factor as a result of Christ’s ministry in His first coming.

In Titus 2:11-12 Paul indicated that one of the functions of the grace of God is that of “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” The word teaching means to “practice discipline, correct, give guidance.” Thus, Paul was saying that grace practices discipline over believers for the purpose of prompting them to reject a godless lifestyle and to adopt a godly one. Paul stated that the grace of God is functioning as a ruling factor ‘in this present world.’ The word which is translated world means age.4 Grace is the ruling factor which uniquely characterizes the dispensation during this present age…

[The sixth dispensation extends from the day of Pentecost, (Acts chapter 2), to the Rapture, (1 Thes 4:13-18; 2 Thes 2:1-12) and includes Mt 27:57; Mk 15:42; Lk 23:50 and John 19:31 to Rev 6:1]

…Israel clearly demonstrated man’s inability to obey God on the basis of the five ruling factors (including the external Mosaic Law) of the fifth dispensation. Thus, God began a sixth dispensation by instituting His grace as a new ruling factor.

…The sixth dispensation has five ruling factors which God uses to govern people: human conscience, the restraint by the Holy Spirit, human government, promise, plus grace. It should be noted that the Mosaic Law is not a ruling factor in the present dispensation. God intended it to be in effect only until the ministry of Christ (Gal. 3:19, 23-25; cp. Rom. 6:14, 1 Cor. 9:20)…

[Note: neither all nor any part (Ceremonial, Moral, or Civil) of the Mosaic Law is a ruling factor in the present dispensation. (See Gal. 5:4)]

…As a ruling factor for the believer, grace consists of two things: a confirmed favorable disposition toward God (the law of God in the heart, Rom 7:22; 2 Cor 3:3-11; Heb 8:8-12 – fulfilled in part in believers during this age via the indwelling Holy Spirit) and the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Dispensational Theologians have named the sixth dispensation after the new ruling factor because that is the factor which makes the sixth dispensation distinct from the fifth.

The special revelation which God gave for the sixth dispensation is recorded in the latter part of the Gospels, the Book of Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation 1-19. Unsaved Jews and Gentiles are to receive the gift of righteousness through faith in Christ. The organized Church is to fulfill the Great Commission, to maintain a pure membership, to discipline unruly members, to prevent false teaching from existing within it, and to contend earnestly for the true faith. Individual believers are to live sensible, godly lives, to be associated with a local church, to evangelize and make disciples, and to use spiritual gifts properly.

Man’s responsibility during the sixth dispensation is to obey God on the basis of human conscience, the restraint by the Holy Spirit, human government, promise, and grace. This responsibility subjects man to the following test: Does man obey God on the basis of these five ruling factors?

3) SECONDARY RULES GOVERNING HUMAN BEHAVIOR

a) Acts 1:8 All Believers shall be witnesses of Christ: Evangelism. I Cor. 1:17; Gal. 1:6-9

b) Acts 1:8 All believers are indwelt with Holy Spirit: Spirit Life. I Cor. 6:19-20; Gal. 4:6; 5:16-26; Eph. 1:13-14; 5:9

c) Acts 1:11 Christ will return for His Church: Blessed Hope. I Thes 4:13-18; Titus 2:13

d) Mt. 28:19-20 The Church shall make disciples: Spiritual Growth. Gal. 2:4; Eph. 4:11-16; II Tim. 2:2; Titus 2:4

e) Acts 15:29-29 The Church shall abstain from idolatry: Worship God. Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12:1-31; Heb. 10:25

f) Acts 15:29 The Church shall keep from fornication: Marriage & Purity. 1 Cor. 5 & 7; Eph. 5:3; Heb. 13:4

g) Acts 15:29 The Church shall keep from things strangled and from blood: Sanctity of Life.

4) CONCLUSION

Man fails the test of the sixth dispensation. The majority of unsaved Jews and Gentiles do not accept the gift of righteousness. Organized Christendom does not fulfill the Great Commission, maintain a pure membership, discipline unruly members, prevent false teaching from existing within it, and contend earnestly for the true faith. Individual believers do not always live sensible, godly lives, associate with a local church, evangelize and make disciples, and use spiritual gifts properly….

…This failure during this present dispensation brings God’s judgment and chastisement. God chastens and even brings premature physical death to some believers for disobedience (Acts 5:1-6; 1 Cor. 5:1-5; 11:27-32; Heb. 12:5-13; 1 Jn 5:16). He puts some local churches out of existence (Rev. 2:5).”

G) THE FINAL SEVEN YEARS OF THE MOSAIC LAW DISPENSATION

1) THE FINAL SEVEN YEARS OF THE MOSAIC LAW DISPENSATION = THE SEVEN YEAR TRIBULATION PERIOD = DANIEL’S 70TH WEEK OF YEARS

a) DANIEL’S 70 WEEKS PROPHECY INDICATES GOD’S 490 YEAR PLAN EXCLUSIVELY FOR ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM WITHIN WHICH THE MESSIAH WOULD PRESENT HIMSELF TO ISRAEL, BE REJECTED & THEN EXECUTED IN THE 483RD YEAR INTERRUPTING THIS PERIOD AT THAT TIME – THE CHURCH BEING IN VIEW AT NO TIME DURING THIS PERIOD; INSTEAD COMMENCING SHORTLY THEREAFTER AT PENTECOST

[Renald E. Showers states; "Maranatha Our Lord, Come!", Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Bellmawr, N.J., 1995, pp. 239-244]:

“Near the end of Israel’s Babylonian captivity, in response to the Prophet Daniel’s concern about Israel’s future, God sent a significant prophecy to him through the angel Gabriel. This prophecy is recorded in Daniel 9:24-27. For the purpose of this present study, we must note several significant facts concerning this prophecy.

i) THE PROPHECY INVOLVED 490 YEARS

This prophecy involved ‘Seventy weeks’ (lit., ‘seventy sevens’) of time (v. 24). Seventy sevens is the same as 70 times seven or 490. Thus, the prophecy involved 490 units of time. How much time would be involved in these 490 units? Would these units consist of 490 days, weeks, months, or years? We shall note later that these units of time were determined by God specifically for Israel. Seventy sevens of years would have been very meaningful to the people of Israel. God had divided their calendar into seven-year periods with every seventh year being a sabbatic year (Lev. 25:3-9). In addition, Israel’s Babylonian captivity lasted 70 years because the people of Israel had violated 70 sabbatic years over the course of 490 years (Lev. 26:34-35; 2 Chr. 36:21). These facts, together with the fact that Daniel himself had been thinking in terms of years in the context of this 70-weeks prophecy (9:1-2), indicate that the units of time involved consist of 490 years.

ii) GOD DID NOT DETERMINE THE 70 WEEKS/490 YEAR PROPHECY FOR THE CHURCH, BUT FOR ISRAEL & JERUSALEM

God determined all 70 weeks or 490 years for Daniel’s people and holy city (v. 25); therefore, all 70 weeks were determined specifically for Israel and Jerusalem. God did not determine the 70 weeks for the church. This is significant because… …the church is distinct from Israel. []

iii) THE TIME FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE 70 WEEKS PROPHECY UNTIL THE MESSIAH IS PRESENTED TO ISRAEL AND THEN EXECUTED WOULD BE 69 WEEKS OR 483 YEARS

Gabriel said that the time from the beginning of the 70 weeks until the Messiah, the Prince, would be 69 weeks or 483 years (v. 25). Thus, 483 years after the beginning of the 70 weeks, the Messiah would be present in the world. The fact that this prophecy gave a very specific time when the Messiah would be present indicates that a significant event would happen with regard to the Messiah at the end of the first 69 weeks. What could that event be?

The fact that Gabriel referred to the Messiah as ‘the Prince’ implies that the event must be related significantly to the Messiah’s being Israel’s Prince or coming King. Zechariah 9:9 declared that Israel could identify its coming King by the fact that He would come to Jerusalem mounted on the foal of a donkey. In light of this, it would appear that the specific event that would happen at the end of the first 69 weeks or 483 years would be the Messiah’s official presentation of Himself to Israel as its Prince or coming King by coming to Jerusalem mounted on the foal of a donkey.

Jesus Christ fulfilled this part of the 70-weeks prophecy when He officially presented Himself to Israel as its Messiah-Prince through His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey on Palm Sunday. Several things indicate that this was the specific event that ended the first 69 weeks or 483 years of the 70-weeks prophecy. First, some of the crowd on that Palm Sunday recognized the significance of Jesus’ actions on that day, for they called Him ‘King’ (Lk 19:37-38).

Second, as Jesus approached Jerusalem on that day, He wept over the city and said, ‘If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hidden from thine eyes.’ He warned Jerusalem that it would be destroyed by enemy forces ‘because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation’ (Lk 19:41-44). Jesus’ language indicated that that particular day had been marked out by God as the time of Jerusalem’s visitation by her Messiah-Prince – the day that could have brought lasting peace to that city if its people had accepted Jesus for Who He was. It also indicated that the people of Israel should have recognized that that particular day was the day when the Messiah would visit Jerusalem as Prince because several centuries earlier, in Daniel 9, God had revealed the exact time when the Messiah would present Himself as Prince to Israel.

Third, the 70-weeks prophecy foretold that the Messiah would be ‘cut off’ after the end of the first 69 weeks or 483 years (vv. 25-26). The word translated ‘cut off’ was used for the death penalty (Lev 7:20-21, 25, 27) and often referred to a violent death (1 Sam. 17:51; Obad. 9; Nah. 3:15). In this instance, it referred to the fact that the Messiah would be condemned to suffer the death penalty and thus would experience a violent death after the end of the first 69 weeks. It is a fact of history that Jesus was condemned to death and crucified several days (less than a week) after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Mk 11-15).

Fourth, the 70-weeks prophecy foretold that Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed after the end of the first 69 weeks (vv. 25-26). It is a fact of history that Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A. D., some 30 to 40 years after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. As we noted earlier, on that Palm Sunday Jesus warned Jerusalem concerning that destruction by enemy forces as He approached the city.

Taken together, these four items indicate that the first 69 weeks of the 70-weeks prophecy ended on the day when Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey and officially presented Himself to Israel as its Prince or coming King.

iv) THE CHURCH DID NOT EXIST DURING ANY PART OF THE FIRST 69 WEEKS OR 483 YEARS OF THE 70 WEEKS

The church did not exist during any part of the first 69 weeks or 483 years of the 70 weeks. We have just observed that the first 69 weeks ended on the day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem… The church did not begin historically until the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), which took place nearly two months after the day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem []; therefore, the church did not begin historically until nearly two months after the end of the first 69 weeks of the 70-weeks prophecy.

We should note that God consistently kept the church out of all the first 69 weeks. Thus, it is evident that He intended the first 69 weeks of the 70-weeks prophecy to be His program specifically for Israel, but not for the church. This was consistent with the concept … that Israel and the church are distinct entities. In addition, it was consistent with the second significant fact noted earlier concerning the 70-weeks prophecy – that God determined all 70 weeks specifically for Israel and Jerusalem, not for the church.

v) GOD TEMPORARILY INTERRUPTED HIS 70 WEEKS PROGRAM FOR ISRAEL AT THE END OF THE FIRST 69 WEEKS OR 483 YEARS WITH A GAP OF TIME THAT IS NOW APPROACHING 2,000 YEARS IN DURATION

God temporarily interrupted His 70-weeks program for Israel at the end of the first 69 weeks or 483 years with a gap of time that is now approaching 2,000 years in duration. Thus, the 70th week or last seven years of the 490 years involved in the prophecy did not follow immediately after the end of the first 69 weeks or 483 years. This indicates that the seven-year Tribulation period has not yet begun.

There are several evidences for this gap of time between the end of the first 69 weeks and the beginning of the 70th week. First, Daniel 9:27 teaches that abomination will come with desolation during the 70th week, but Jesus indicated that this abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel will come shortly before His Second Coming immediately after the Great Tribulation (Mt 24:15-21, 29-31), meaning that the 70th week or last seven years of the prophecy must also come shortly before Jesus’ Second Coming.

Second, Daniel 9 indicates that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans fits within the scope of the 70 weeks or 490 years of the prophecy. Thus, this destruction was to occur before the end of the 70th week or last period of seven years. In light of this and the fact that the first 69 weeks ended with Jesus’ triumphal entry, if the last seven of the 490 years had followed immediately after the end of the first 69 weeks, Jerusalem and the Temple would have been destroyed just seven years after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem in the early 30s A. D. It is a fact of history, however, that Jerusalem and the Temple were not destroyed until 70 A. D., several decades after Jesus’ triumphal entry. Only if there were a gap of time between the end of the first 69 weeks and the beginning of the 70th week could this destruction have taken place so late and still be within the scope of the 70-weeks or 490-years prophecy.

Third, it is not unusual for biblical prophecies to contain gaps of time. For example, Isaiah 9:6 says, ‘For unto us a child is born’ (referring to the Messiah’s first coming), and ‘the government shall be upon His shoulder’ (related the Messiah’s Second Coming). Zechariah 9:9-10 states, ‘behold, thy King commeth unto thee… lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass’ (referring to the Messiah’s triumphal entry during His first coming), and ‘His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth’ (related to the Messiah’s Second Coming).

vi) GOD STARTED THE CHURCH VERY SHORTLY AFTER HE INTERRUPTED HIS 70 WEEKS PROGRAM FOR ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM WITH A GAP OF TIME AT THE END OF THE FIRST 69 WEEKS

God started the church very shortly after He interrupted His 70-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem with a gap of time at the end of the first 69 weeks. God brought the church into existence just 57 days after the first 69 weeks ended with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

vii) A SUMMARY OF THE FACTS RE: THE 70 WEEKS PROPHECY OF DANIEL 9

[Showers, cont.]:

“The examination of the 70-weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 has produced several significant facts. First, the Daniel 9:24-27 prophecy involved 70 weeks or 490 years of time. Second, God determined all 70 weeks or 490 years specifically for Israel and Jerusalem, not for the church. Third, the first 69 weeks or 483 years ended with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey on Palm Sunday. Fourth, the church did not exist during any part of the first 69 weeks or 483 years. Sixth, God started the church very shortly after He interrupted His 70-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem with a gap of time at the end of the first 69 weeks.”

viii) STRONG INFERENCES RE: DANIEL’S 70-WEEKS PROPHECY AND THE PRESENCE OF THE CHURCH ON EARTH

[Shower, cont.]:

“These six facts, when taken together and combined with the distinction between Israel and the church [] noted at the beginning of this chapter, prompt three strong inferences.

viii_a)GOD DOES NOT INTEND THE CHURCH TO BE PRESENT ON THE EARTH FOR ANY PART OF THE 70 WEEKS OR 490 YEARS HE HAS DETERMINED SPECIFICALLY FOR ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM

God does not intend the church to be present on the earth for any part of the 70 weeks or 490 years He has determined specifically for Israel and Jerusalem. He intends to keep His 70-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem and His program for the church separate and distinct from each other, just as Israel and the church are distinct entities.

This does not mean that God stopped working altogether with Israel and Jerusalem when He interrupted the 70-weeks program and started the church. Instead, it means that God temporarily stopped one specific program (the 70-weeks program) with Israel and Jerusalem while He works His program with the church in the world. There is a major difference between saying that God stopped working with Israel altogether and saying that He Temporarily stopped one specific program with that nation. God worked with Israel and Jerusalem in ways other than the 70-weeks program for many centuries before He started that specific program after Daniel’s time. In like manner, during the present interruption of the 70-weeks program, He works with the nation and city in ways other than that program.

viii_b) GOD INTENDS THE CHURCH TO BE PRESENT ON THE EARTH SPECIFICALLY DURING THE INTERRUPTING GAP OF TIME BETWEEN THE END OF THE FIRST 69 WEEKS OR 483 YEARS AND THE BEGINNING OF THE 70TH WEEK OR LAST SEVEN YEARS

God intends the church to be present on the earth specifically during the interrupting gap of time between the end of the first 69 weeks or483 years and the beginning of the 70th week or last seven years. If God intended to mix any part of His 70-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem with His program for the church, why didn’t He start the church during the first 69 weeks of the 70-weeks program?

viii_c) GOD WILL REMOVE THE CHURCH FROM THE EARTH BEFORE THE 70TH WEEK BEGINS WITH THE RESUMPTION OF HIS 70-WEEKS PROGRAM FOR ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM

God will remove the church from the earth in a premillennial rapture before the resumption of His 70-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem. []

viii_d) THE CHURCH IS ABSENT ON EARTH IN PASSAGES REFERRING TO THE 7 YEAR TRIBULATION PERIOD, (DANIEL’S 70TH WEEK)

[Showers, op. cit., pp. 245-251]:

“A seventh inference for the Pretribulation Rapture of the church is gained from an examination of the references to the church and Israel in the Book of the Revelation.”

REFERENCES TO THE CHURCH IN REVELATION – ONLY OCCUR BEFORE THE SEVEN YEAR TRIBULATION PERIOD

[Showers, cont.]:

“Twenty-four verses in the Book of the Revelation refer to the church. Nineteen of these verses refer to the church as the ‘church’ or ‘churches’ (ekklesia); two verses refer to it as the ‘bride’ (numphe); two verses indicate that the church is the Lamb’s ‘wife’ (gune); and one verse refers to the church as both the ‘bride’ and the ‘wife’ of the Lamb. Revelation never refers to the church as the ‘body’ (soma).

Twenty of the 24 verses refer to the church in the present church age (1:4, 11, 20; 2:1, 7,8, 11, 12, 17, 18, 23, 29; 3:1, 6, 7, 13, 14, 22; 22:16, 17). Two verses refer to the church in the marriage of the Lamb, which will take place in heaven, not on the earth (19:7,8). Two verses refer to the church in the future eternal state (21:2,9).

It is important to note that there are not references to the church on the earth in chapters 4 through 18, the chapters relating specifically to the 70th week of Daniel 9, including the seals, trumpets, and bowls.”

REFERENCES TO ISRAEL IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION DECLARE THE PREDOMINANCE OF ISRAEL DURING DANIEL’S 70TH WEEK AND MAGNIFY THE ABSENCE OF THE CHURCH DURING THAT 7 YEAR TRIBULATION PERIOD

[Showers, cont.]:

“Twenty-two verses in the Book of the Revelation refer to Israel. One of these verses refers to Israel as ‘the twelve tribes of the children of Israel’ (21:12). Ten verses refer to the 144,000 Jewish men by several designations (7:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; 14:1, 3, 4, 5). Ten verses describe Israel through various terms as the woman who is pursued by the dragon (Satan) [12:1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17]. One verse refers to ‘the children of Israel’ (2:14).

One of the 22 verses refers to Israel in Old Testament times (2:14). One other refers to the nation in the future eternal state (21:12). Four verses refer to Israel during the time of the first coming of Christ (12:1, 2, 4, 5). It is important to note that the remaining 16 verses refer to Israel on the earth during the 70th week (7:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; 12:6, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17; 14:1, 3, 4, 5).”

Furthermore, the sacrificial system in the Tribulation Temple will be an ongoing practice at that time – pointing to a resumption of the rule of the Law of Moses, (Ref., Dan 9:27; 12:11-13; Isa 66:1-4; Mt 24:15; 2 Thess 2:3-4; Rev 11:1-2).

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