Monday, April 26, 2010

A Response to Anti-Dispensationalism

I know of few people that describe themselves as "anti-dispensationalists." Many I know would distance themselves from Dispensationalism, calling it "Ruckmanism," of all things, but until recently I had heard of very few people that would actually believe that Dispensational theology is unbiblical. For instance, the church I grew up in did not teach what I call Rightly Dividing, that God dealt with different people differently at different times in history: i.e. Adam was given different commands than Noah who was given different commands than Abraham, etc. Israel was unquestionably required to keep the WORKS of the Law: yes they were a picture of Christ, but they had absolutely no clue about that! Also, Jesus taught meekness and non-violence, but to Jews only, while Paul taught forbearance as much as possible and called people fools, directly contrary to Christ's command in Matthew 5:22.

Then, even more recently, I saw a link to a blog posted by someone: the title of the blog actually stated that they were against Dispensationalism. I eventually came to find that they were post-milleniallists, which started to make sense, and I was asked by a couple of people to respond to the blog post in question. This is that response: I hope you can at least learn something of my stance, even if I'm not able to change your doctrinal stance.

Forewarning: I believe the King James Bible unquestioningly. I will tolerate no second-guessing of God's word, for the King James is certainly that word. No Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic or Chaldean will I appeal to against the King James, for I believe that God is able to not only magnify His word above all His name (Ps. 138:2), but He is able to preserve (Ps. 12:6-7) every word (Matt. 4:4) forever (Ps. 119:89).

I shall delineate the points that were presented against Dispensationalism and address them to the best of my ability in the limited time and space that I have.

(1) Christ is presently ruling in his kingdom

The original poster stated that according to Ephesians 1:20-22, Christ "was already established as the king and enthroned in the first century" First, from a logical perspective, if that is true, than Jesus is the most pathetic king to ever sit on a throne! Have you seen what a mess this world is in?? Surely a king as powerful as Jesus, if He really were ruling right now, could do at least a marginally better job of it!!

From a Biblical perspective, however, one must understand that there are TWO kingdoms spoken of in the Bible: the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of Heaven. (Things that are different are not the same - Heaven is not God!) From the beginning of Christ's earthly ministry, which was only to the Jews, by the way (Matt. 10:5, 6, 15:24), Jesus was offering them the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 3:2, 4:17, all of Matthew 5, 7:21, ad nauseum), a literal, physical, earthly kingdom. This kingdom is described in its fulfillment in Revelation 19 and 20, with Jesus ruling with a rod of iron as an absolute dictator in a literal kingdom, ruling from the literal city of Jerusalem.

That being said, Jesus' kingdom is still future, since the nation of Israel rejected and crucified their King, and even after being given the promises of the last days, written by the prophet Joel, through the preaching of the Apostle Peter, they continually rejected the Holy Spirit and Christ's imminent return, which culminated in the salvation of Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13, 15:16; Gal. 2:8; Eph. 3:8; Col. 1:27; 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11), and the dissemination of the Gospel (of the Grace of God, mind you) to the Gentiles. Even as late as Acts 10, Peter and the rest of the early Christians didn't believe that Salvation (or in their minds, the Holy Spirit) was available to the Gentiles. The Ethiopian Eunuch was saved in Acts 8, but that appeared to be an isolated incident, but it took the direct revelation of God to Peter to convince him that the Gentiles were now invited to the party!

Simply put, to state that Christ is currently ruling a physical kingdom is completely unsupported by Scripture. He is ruling the Spiritual Kingdom of God, which is not meat and drink, but righteousness (Rom. 14:17), but no physical kingdom, since that is yet to come, and it takes an incredible imagination, and a whole lot of twisting, spiritualizing, and ignoring of Scripture, to stuff the events of the book of Revelation into the past.

(2) We are presently ruling with Christ

The author assumes that since we are spoken of as "sit[ting] together in heavenly places" with Christ in heaven (Eph. 2:6-7), that this is (see above) speaking of a literal, physical kingdom, when in fact the only ruling happening on earth on a physical sense is by the powers of darkness (Eph. 6:12). Jesus is described in three ways: His first appearance was as a Prophet, He is now fulfilling His role as the High Priest, and when He comes in glory as is described in Revelation 20, He will be the King of Kings, and reign for 1,000 years unchallenged.

Simply put, the failure to understand the differences between the kingdoms renders this objection moot. We are technically ruling with Christ, as we have been made fellowheirs with Him, and are now ambassadors of Christ on earth. However, to state that we are somehow in a position of literal rulership in this world is again ludicrous.

(3) The Jew and Gentile are forever merged into one body in the final phase of God’s redemptive plan.

This part is correct in one aspect, in that the Jew and Gentile both lose their cultural identity in the Body of Christ, but wrong in that this is far from the final phase of God's redemptive plan. As mentioned above, there is still a Millennial period to come, preceded by a seven-year Tribulation period, when once again God's complete focus returns to the Jews and the nation of Israel. The temple will be rebuilt, and sacrifices will be offered therein, and then the "Abomination of Desolation" (Mark 13:14) will be the beginning of "Jacob's Trouble" or "The Great Tribulation," which will be the time when only a remnant of a remnant of the Jewish people will survive - these are unquestionable the people who are spoken of throughout the book of Revelation as being beheaded, tortured, and massacred for the word of God and the testimony of His name, and for refusing to worship the Image of the Beast and take his mark.

God cast out Israel as a corporate entity, and grafted in the Church, of which the Jews can become a part of. That being said, the Bible is clear that when the Rapture of the Church takes place, the Jews once again become the main focus of God, as He prepares them to take their rightful place as the rulers of the earth.

Simply put, the Church is but a parenthetical, almost accidental thing as far as Bible prophecy goes. We can see the Church in the Old Testament now, looking back, in pictures and types, but not one person believed that the Gentile would be a part of ANYTHING until the vision of the sheet from heaven came to Peter and Cornelius received the Holy Spirit. We are undoubtedly to be the Bride of Christ, but Israel is the currently-divorced wife of God the Father, and they will be dealt with differently: Christ's church purified and married purely, and God's divorced wife repentant and reunited with her Husband.

(4) Paul sees Gentiles as receiving Jewish promises.

The author mistakenly assumes that Paul speaks of the physical blessings promised to the Jews when he speaks of the "covenants of promise" (Eph. 2:12). What the author fails to realize is that the context is entirely about spiritual things, not physical blessings. Yes, we receive the blessing of God as far as communication with the Creator and so many other things, but to claim the physical promises given to Israel is illogical, and absolutely unsupported Biblically or practically.

Simply put, yes, we receive Jewish blessings, but only those that are spiritual, and were outright rejected by the Jews, as they were and are a physically-motivated/driven people. We do not get their land, their supernatural health, their protection from evildoers, or any of a thousand other promises given to them because of their bloodline, nor shall we ever have those promises. We have gifts and promises that Israel will never receive, as well, such as God's unmerited, free grace: we do not have to endeavor to keep the Law in order to receive His grace!

(5) The rebuilt temple is the Church of Jesus Christ.

Again, the author fails to understand the difference between the physical and spiritual Kingdoms: in the Church Age, or Age of Grace, we most certainly are the "Temple" of God: we can worship Him wherever, and we do not need to go through a priest to receive forgiveness of sins or to communicate with Him. However, in the next Age, when God is once again dealing with a people whose emphasis is ALWAYS on physical and visible things, there will be a new temple in Jerusalem.

Simply put, it goes back to part 1: two Kingdoms.

(6) The mystery of the Church was revealed in the Old Testament

Well, I sure wish you'd tell that to the Disciples, the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin, and all the rest of the educated Jews back then! We understand the Church by looking back at the Scriptures through the corrective lens of the New Testament, but to imagine that ANYONE before Paul understood what the Church was is abject heresy! Yes, Heresy, and I will prove it, from the same scriptures that were used in the original argument.

Ephesians 3:
1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

He specifically says in verse five that in other ages it was NOT made known unto the sons of men (why that phrase holds so much meaning for the blog's author, I cannot understand), but is now revealed. In fact, in the book of Galatians, Paul tells how this "Mystery" was revealed specifically to him in the desert of Sinai, by none other than Jesus Christ Himself. The Church is called a "mystery" so many times through the New Testament that to claim that anyone before Paul understood what it meant (in that Jews and Gentiles would be united in one spiritual Body) is not only unsupported by the Scriptures, but it's actually contrary to Scripture, since Paul said that no one before him knew anything about that "mystery."

In short, the "point" is unbiblical, unsubstantiated, and immediately refutable. The Bible stands.

Now, while responding, I came to understand how such a doctrinal lapse could occur. The first and foremost thing is that there is a strong aversion in today's Christianity to submit oneself to the authority of ONE "version" of Scripture. If you can pick and choose what you think the Bible should say, that's a lot easier than just buckling down and obeying one unappealable Bible, is it not?

Secondly, Christians fail to understand that they, the born-again, blood-bought, saved eternally Bride of Christ, are NOT the main theme of the Scriptures. In fact, like I stated above, the Church is little more than a parenthetical blip on God's eternal radar, simply a loving Father's indulgence for His beloved Son to gain a Bride. The main theme of the Scriptures is the KINGDOM: it starts with King Adam being given dominion (a kingdom), and ends with Jesus Christ on a THRONE reigning and ruling in a literal, physical kingdom, on a literal, physical throne, in glory and power for eternity to come.

Beyond that there are many issues that must be addressed, but those are the main ones. I hope my response was concise: I try to be as cordial as possible, but I must confess that civility places somewhere lower on my list of importance than does clarity. I'd rather make sure that someone knows the truth than miss that and come across as a nice guy.

God bless, and I hope this helps someone.


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Mrs W said...

:) Was the non-resistant reference for me? I believe in Rightly Dividing, I'm also a non-resistant Christian. Maybe I should do a blog post on that some time, even though my friend who is also non-resistant says not to talk about it because people don't understand it. I just don't see how hiding who I am will help any either.

Anyhow, I know your post wasn't about Christian non-resistance but whatever. :)

Vince LaRue said...

I had no clue that you felt that way, so it certainly wasn't directed at you, or at anyone specifically, for that matter. Paul told us to live peaceably with all men, as much as lieth in us, so while you're free to believe as you want, pacifism is certainly not prescribed to us today.

That's why I own a gun and am ready to use it. :)

Mrs W said...

Aww and here I was feeling loved. Oh well. I'll get over it. HAHA.

Mrs W said...

Oh and for the record, my husband doesn't agree with my non-resistant beliefs either. So you don't have to think that he's gone off the deep end haha.

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