SHOCKING FACTS ABOUT DISPENSATIONALISM
(How Did This Doctrine Ever Make It?)
Michael F. Blume
© 2008 Michael F. Blume
When a doctrine has been around just long enough and becomes popular, its momentum carries itself onward for many years to come. We can think of some denominational traditions that are found no where in the Bible that have simply been around so long and have become so ingrained within their followers that you simply cannot jar the people out of adherence to them. The tradition's sheer popularity alone keeps it going without any need for biblical basis in many people's minds. In my opinion, this is precisely the case with the doctrine of Dispensationalism.
WHAT IS DISPENSATIONALISM?
Briefly, the doctrine of Dispensationalsm can be summed as follows: God has dispensed several covenants in the earth beginning with the simple command to Adam to not eat of the forbidden fruit in the garden. Each dispensation ends with a judgment before God gives to man the next covenant. The teaching claims there are to be seven such dispensations before the end of the world occurs. We are allegedly in the sixth dispensation called Grace, and this will be followed by one more called the Kingdom Dispensation, or the Millennial reign of Christ. It became popular during the 1800s and early 1900s and is held today by many conservative Protestants.
The teaching takes the 70 Weeks of Daniel, in Daniel chapter 9, and inserts an unbiblical gap of centuries between the 69th week and the 70th week in which the church age allegedly occurs. During the 70th week of Daniel, God will deal specifically with the nation of Israel to bring it to national salvation. In this national salvation, Israelites who have faith in Jesus Christ during that time will inherit the promised Theocratic Kingdom and the alleged unconditional Covenants God made with Israel. Israel will fulfill its role as the Theocratic Covenanted Kingdom promised to the nation in Old Testament prophecy.
The dispensations are listed as follows:
THEY TEACH THE KINGDOM WAS POSTPONED BY THE CROSS
The word "dispensation" is used in the bible four times (1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 1:10; 3:2; Col. 1:25). It is not used to describe seven dispensations, though, and it simply means a stewardship and administration given to people. It is true that the dispensations listed in the teaching actually did occur, except for the last one, the Millennial Kingdom, which I claim will never occur. That is bad enough, but the larger problem is the elements of the teaching that claim God is working with Israel and the Church in this sixth dispensation they call "Grace", at the same time. The bible simply does not teach this. The idea is that God has inserted the Church into the overall work of God in the world due to Israel's rejection of Jesus Christ. It is said that the Kingdom of God that Jesus claimed was at hand during His ministry on earth was postponed, since Israel did not accept Him. This caused God to turn towards the Gentile world and call a Church out of the world for His name's sake during the period when Israel is blinded by God due to their rejection of the Lord. The Kingdom will again come into view after the "Gentile Church" is raptured out of the world and a seven year tribulation period begins, says the doctrine. This seven year period is the seven last years of the dispensation of Grace, and will see the judgment that has faithfully occurred at the end of every preceding dispensation, before the last and final Dispensation occurs with the Millennium's one thousand year reign of Jesus. Israel will once again be in the forefront, having accepted Jesus Christ by this point, and the Kingdom will finally be placed in the world as God intended to be thousands of years earlier before Jesus died on the cross.
First of all, this doctrine implies God's plan failed, and a secondary Plan B, so to speak, had to occur with the involvement of the Church. This makes the cross a Plan B that should never have taken place. If Israel had accepted Christ as God planned, they would never have crucified the Lord! So it makes the cross something that was not supposed to occur after the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden. However, the Bible teaches that the work of the cross was planned by God before the world even began (Revelation 13:8; 1 Peter 1:19-20)! That means it could not have been a backup plan to occur in case the primary plan of God failed. How would God have redeemed mankind without the cross had Israel not rejected Jesus Christ? It makes no sense to say the rejection of Jesus Christ by Israel, and the work of the cross was a plan B.
I recall having first heard this a few short years after I was saved, and questioning it back then in my early years as a believer! Everything I read about the cross in the Bible was indications that God planned for it to occur, which meant the Jews were intended by God to reject Jesus Christ and crucify Him. How could God find need of postponing the Kingdom of God and see the cross save man from sin if the only way for redemption is through the shedding of blood (Heb 9:22). God foreknows the future! He does not need to have a Plan B in case Plan A fails! When you know the future, there is no room for a Plan B.
During the Church Age in this dispensation of Grace, this doctrine tells us that God is working with Israel at the same time He is working with the Church to bring Israel to its land thousands of years after the cross, and position them for the great tribulation to come in the final seven years of this dispensation. Dispensational preachers have stated that God is readying Israel for a slaughter that will make the Holocaust look like a picnic! All of that is necessary to see Israel get back on track again with God and be ready to accept Jesus Christ as Messiah in order to usher in the seventh final dispensation of the Kingdom.
JESUS AND APOSTLES SAID NOTHING ABOUT DISPENSATIONALISM
As ridiculous as Dispensationalism is in those aspects, there is more about the teaching that is shocking. None of the Apostles and Disciples, of the New Testament early church, and the Lord, Himself, said anything about God working with Israel alongside His work with the Church in this world. All of this is assumed and not taken from any direct teaching in the New Testament. One dispensationalist told me that the events are not explicitly stated in the Bible to occur, but the idea "fits" and does not contradict what God did plainly say in the New Testament that He would do. As far as something that might "fit" in between actual statements that God did say in the Bible, there are a million and one ideas we can come up with that fit that category. However, to say that the teaching does not contradict what is actually said is incorrect. It does contradict what the Bible says.
KINGDOM WILL BE PHYSICAL?
Dispensationalism proposes that Postponed Kingdom will occur in the Millennium and will consist of a physical throne in Jerusalem, in the middle east, where Jesus Christ will actually and physically sit in the earth. They claim Jesus is not seated as of yet on this throne, the Throne of David. Since David sat on his throne on the earth in Jerusalem, they feel that Jesus cannot be on the throne of David unless He is on the earth in Jerusalem, as well. This is not what the Throne of David is referring to. The throne of David is a term used that is very similar to speaking about the House of David. David's House in scripture is not talking about the actual place of his residence where he and his family lived. It is speaking about his family, itself. The Throne of David is speaking about David's dynasty, not the physical chair on which a king sits. Saul lost the throne and it was taken from Saul's family to David's family. It was prophesied that every king after David would be from David's family, hence the throne refers to David's dynasty.
At any rate, to have a physical kingdom with a physical palace in Israel during the Millennium contradicts Jesus Christ's own words concerning the fact that the Kingdom does not come with observation. You will never be able to say, "Lo here," or "Lo, there," for the Kingdom is not physical but is in you (Luke 17:20-21). So, the Dispensational idea of a physical kingdom contradicts the words of Jesus Christ! Paul also said that the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. These are inward, spiritual elements. The Kingdom is already here, and has been here since the Day of Pentecost! When Jesus said it was at hand, He was not mistaken as though He did not expect the Jews to reject Him and cause a postponement of that Kingdom. It was at hand two thousand years ago, even when Israel rejected Him.
Jesus said that if He casts out devils by the finger of God then we know the kingdom of God is come (Luke 11:20).
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN NOT THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
In order to make Dispensationalism "fit", the teachers have to create the false notion that the Kingdom of Heaven is not the same thing as the Kingdom of God. One dispensationalist wrote these words, "Knowing the doctrinal difference between the terms 'Kingdom of Heaven' and 'Kingdom of God' is the key to understanding the complete time line of Biblical history past, present, and future, the proper place of the Church, and the prophetic future of Israel.".
What he actually meant was that without creating this mistaken distinction, Dispensationalism does not work.
These teachers agree the "Kingdom of God" is here now in Spiritual form, but "the Kingdom of Heaven" is going to come after once the Millennium begins in our future. The fact is that the two are one and the same Kingdom! They are synonyms of the same Kingdom. Let me prove it.
"Kingdom of God" occurs 68 times in the New Testament. "Kingdom of Heaven" only occurs 10 times. The Gospel of Matthew is the only book that uses the term "Kingdom of Heaven". Dispensationalists come up with all sorts of remarks about that. they claim Matthew was written primarily to the Jews, and deals with Millennium teachings, whereas the other Gospels that mention the "Kingdom of God" are dealing with the church age. They use that same argument to say that the same conversations found in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 actually contain two different conversations. The one in Luke is dealing about events that transpired in AD70, whereas Matthew 24 is speaking about our future and not AD70. If we can see that the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are one and the same thing, then another leg of Dispensationalism is taken out from beneath the teaching.
The account of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 includes Jesus' words saying, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:23). In the very next verse, Jesus exchanged the term "Kingdom of God" for "Kingdom of Heaven", and said this, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” He explicitly stated He repeated Himself when He said, "Again I say unto you." To use the term "Kingdom of God" in repetition of His point lets us know the two phrases are speaking about the same thing. The Kingdom of God is nothing different than the Kingdom of Heaven! The Kingdom of Heaven is not a Millennial Kingdom that has not yet come.
Jesus said these words:
Matthew 11:11-12 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (12) And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Luke accounted the same statement by Jesus and used these words:
Luke 7:28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
Which makes more reasonable sense?
DISPENSATIONALISM FAILS "OCCAM'S RAZOR" TEST
There is a rule of logic and reason that fits this question quite well. It is called Occam's Razor. This rule states that when a person considers the possibilities of different explanations for the same situation, the explanation that allows for the least possible assumptions is most likely the correct one. In other words, the simplest solution is the best one. To claim that the two titles refer to two different kingdoms, which the Bible does not even plainly state as being two different Kingdoms, takes a lot of scriptural gymnastics. But considering the two titles as referring to the same kingdom right now, and seeing Jesus actually use the terms synonymously from one verse to the next, simplifies the thought very much.
GOD'S KINGDOM WITHOUT A THRONE ON EARTH
Another important point the Bible mentions is that Samuel and God, Himself, made statements concerning kingdoms that are contradicted by Dispensationalism.
1 Samuel 8:4-8 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, (5) And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. (6) But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. (7) And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. (8) According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.
Israel was already ruled by God in the days of Samuel as Judge. In God's rule, there was no palace or throne. But God was still ruling. God's Kingdom did not have a palace in Israel with a physical throne there. Israel wanted to be like other nations and have a king with a palace and throne. When Samuel reported this to the Lord, the Lord told Samuel that they rejected God's Kingdom. He compared this rejection of the people with the evils they committed since they were brought out of Egypt. Therefore, to think that God wants a kingdom set up with a palace and physical throne, like other nations and their kingdoms, is repeating the same error that Israel made in wanting these things. It is rejecting the sort of Kingdom God had before Israel made this blunder. Dispensationalism likewise proposes a throne in the middle east on earth with a palace. What were they thinking?
In Dispensationalism's efforts to prove that Israel and the Church are involved in two different simultaneous works of God today, using the Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God issue again, it proposes that Matthew 24 was speaking about our future whereas Luke 21 was speaking about AD70. These two chapters practically mirror each other with minor variations that one finds in any story related in more than one Gospel account.
Matthew and Luke both spoke of the stones of the temple being overthrown, false Christs, wars, earthquakes and pestilences, fleeing to the mountains when signs are given, signs in the sun, moon and stars, etc. The minor variations include the thought that when Matthew's account shows the disciples asking Jesus about the temple, Matthew uses the phrase the "end of the world," whereas Luke does not. Also, Luke's account tells the disciples to flee to the mountains when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies, whereas Matthew says they should flee when they see the abomination of desolation.
However, Dispensationalism breaks the test of Occam's Razor again, and says that despite the almost perfect mirroring of the two accounts, Luke is speaking of AD70 and Matthew is speaking of the future yet to come! It claims that the abomination of desolation has nothing to do with Jerusalem surrounded by armies, and that these two accounts are two totally different events separated by thousands of years. The obvious truth is that the abomination of desolation would occur when Jerusalem was surrounded by armies, making the signal to flee to the mountains in both accounts to be one and the same signal.
To say that these minor differences imply two totally different conversations about two totally different events separated by thousands of years is ridiculous. It is like saying that each of the differences in the Four Gospels means that there are four different Jesus Christs, and four different crucifixions, because each Gospel does not have the exact same words describing what was written over the head of Jesus on the cross! The minor differences exist due to the fact that the writers were inspired by the Spirit along with what they remember the conversations involved, so as to leave us with different "angles" of the same pictures.
These variations actually help us narrow down more perfectly what the Lord was referring to in his conversations. It is similar to have an accident occur with two vehicles and talking to four different witnesses. One witness focused upon a detail the others did not see. Putting them altogether allows us to get a more perfect picture. So, rather than concoct the silly "dispensational" notion that there are two totally different conversations that coincidentally mirror one another in so many ways (and jump through all sorts of hoops to come to such a conclusion), we have the blessing of having more than one account of the single conversation so as to allow us to more perfectly narrow down what the issues are actually speaking about!
CLOSEST TWO REFERENCES ACTUALLY SAY NOTHING ABOUT DISPENSATIONALISM
After having been a dispensationalist, due to having been introduced to it first before any other interpretation of prophecy, and having studied personally to conclude the doctrine is incorrect, I have noticed something. There are only two small passages in the entire New Testament that Dispensationalism claims as its strong points, and neither of them teach dispensationalism whatsoever. If those people could realize these are the two strongest references the teachings has, then the doctrine would never last another minute.
Acts 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
The case of Acts 1:6 has the disciples asking Jesus about something Jesus did not confirm nor deny. In fact, Jesus distracted their attention from such a thought and directed it towards the gift of the Holy Ghost they would receive in a few days afterwards. After this question, not one New Testament passage says anything in the Book of Acts and all the epistles, and Revelation, about anything to do with Israel receiving a restored Kingdom. Not only that, but these people were not regenerated yet and did not have the Spirit baptism. Jesus said He had many things to share with them that they were unable to handle. When the Spirit of truth would come, it would guide them to all truth. When it did come, none of them were inspired by the Spirit to mention anything about a restored Kingdom in Israel.
The passage in Romans 11 is supposed to somehow refer to the coming rapture of the church, after which Israel shall once again have attention focused solely upon her. This attention for some reason involves the restoration of a physical Kingdom in Israel. Well, to put it bluntly, nothing about a rapture or Kingdom in Israel is even mentioned anywhere around this passage, let alone those two verses, themselves. How is the reference to "the fullness of the gentiles be come in" a reference to the rapture? If you read earlier in the same chapter, the term "fullness" is given to refer to the blessings of God.
Romans 11:11-12 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. (12) Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
The fall was speaking of the Jews' fall. Paul stated that Israel's disobedience in rejecting Jesus did not put them in an irrecoverable position away from God's mercy. Gentiles were able to come into the commonwealth of Israel's relationship with God due to their fall. Paul then asked that if their fall meant the spiritual riches of the Gentiles, what would the Jews' fullness mean for the Gentiles? In other words, if the Gentiles received such a blessing from God due to Israel's fall, what how much greater blessing will come to the Gentiles due to the Jew's fullness? This fullness refers to the full inclusion of Jews into the church, and not just a remnant.
Romans 11:12 ISV Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their fall means riches for the gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
The question is when would the full number of Gentiles come in, and what will that mark as an event? Dispensationalism proposes this must refer to the rapture of the church. The only problem with that is that it makes the Church Gentile only, while some Dispensationalists admit SOME Jews are saved and in the church. Consider closely the fact that this teaching implies that the Church is understood as Gentile. The New Testament never teaches that the Church is Gentile. In fact it teaches quite strongly that the church is intended for Jews and Gentiles to be reconciled to God in one body in Ephesians 2.
The words in Romans 11 actually portray the sense of Jewish inclusion into the church, rather than the church removed so Israel can come to God again. For Paul to say that the blindness on Israel caused the blessing of salvation to come to the gentiles, and then to ask how much more will the gentiles be blessed when Israel once again comes to God, implies that the gentile element of the church is not removed so Israel can come in. Somehow the gentile element of the church is blessed with Israel's entrance into the church! How could the Gentile element of the church be blessed by Israel's entrance if the Gentile element is removed from the earth?
If these verses in Acts 1 and Romans 11 are the strongest passages in the New Testament for dispensationalism, then the doctrine has an extremely weak foundation, to say the least! Neither of them plainly teach that doctrine whatsoever. With all these flaws in Dispensationalism, I ask how did this doctrine ever make it?
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