In the past dispensationally as you study the scriptures you see how God applied the covenant of Faith and oneís trust in carrying it out. First, through the members of the family who had to exercise faith and trust in God by their acceptance of the family head who had the responsibility to offer the sacrifice for them, (he acted as priest to the family).
Old Testament and New Testament or Covenants
The Confusion today about Covenant Hermeneutics and Dispensational Hermeneutics is in their relationship to each other, and the relationship to the Redemptive Covenant. It has caused interpretation or exegesis of self imposed ideas of verses which are not what the original author God, had inspired.
Hermeneutics is the science and methodology of interpreting the texts of the
books of the Bible. This branch of theology is concerned with explaining or
interpreting religious concepts, theories and principles.
Definition: Exegesis is the analyses of the text - the explanation or interpretation of texts, especially religious writings
The problem I have with the hermeneutic or exegesis of scripture is the approach to interpret Godís Word. The teachers of Theology, with the teaching of dispensations and covenants need to be accurate in their understanding so they can explain the Word of God and not interpret it according to one's own interpretation. God makes it plain in scripture; His Word is not of private interpretation, II Peter 1:20-21KJV. Therefore, true Bible believers are not on a journey to interpret the Word of God, but to discover what the author is saying. The author is God and His instruments were men who penned His expressions and truths as they were moved by Him; He used their personalities for expressing the exact words He wanted in the Bible reveal, (in its original writing). We are to discover what He was saying through these men keeping accurate the translation of the Bible from the original text writings - His character, the unity of Scripture and His symmetry of design found in Scripture are to show the truths of God. When a correct understanding of the Authorís reveled truth is put forth honestly then those who read Godís Word can apply the truths accurately according to their personal need. The hermeneutics approach can be used by individuals for the application after the correct discovery of the original is made. Those who are teachers are called by God to be diligent, accomplishing their calling and election accurately for they will be held accountable for what they say and write, II Peter 1:10, James 3:1.
Why then do I use the word hermeneutics and exegesis? They are the disciplines used in Christian studies to expound the Bible and to give a warning for accurate discovery of the text which can be used in a wrong way or correct way for understanding the writings of Scripture. The use of this approach (hermeneutics), has led to incorrect understanding, spiritualization or an incomplete understanding of Godís truth which starts with oneís private interpretation or a presupposition. Therefore, I encourage those who want to help others understand Godís Word to consider the following and to see if it does not make Godís revealed Word consistent, unified, and accurate according as He has brought it about, and how the history of humanity has accrued that will be historically correct. If there is any inconsistency within the following it is to be rejected, but if it is correct, it must be embraced for helping put forth the message of Godís truth.
The teaching of dispensations over the years have been taught by using the Redemptive covenant as a major principle or guiding principle for the change to the next dispensation. When studying covenants and dispensational truths one has to remember: 'a covenant is not a dispensation and a dispensation is not a covenant', (See chapters on covenants and the guiding or key principles covering the making of a dispensation).
Another wrong interpretation made over the years - is the teaching that the Law given to Israel through Moses was the beginning of a new dispensation instead of being part of the continuous development within the Dispensation of Promise. The Law was part of setting up Israel's governmental Kingdom rules. Along with this interpretation taught, it is also wrong to interpretation Israel's bondage in Egypt, brought the Dispensation of Promise to end and a new dispensation to begin.
A third wrong interpretation is that Lord Jesus, the Son of God, the Christ's incarnation (birth, life, death, and resurrection) was the beginning of a new dispensation instead of the fulfillment of the redemptive covenant for the world, (the fulfillment of a covenant is not a dispensation). Jesus Christ was promised to the world through the Nation of Israel specifically through the tribe of Judah given to the family of the descendents of David, and in His coming to earth the first time He was not setting up the earthly Kingdom as yet to Israel, Acts 1:6-8, Mark 13:32-37. He said that many times in His response when asked about the earthly Kingdom while here on earth. He was here to finish His work of the fulfillment of the redemption covenant (The New Covenant). The new dispensation which would come later would come in the Heavenly Farther,s timing and as we study the scriptures we see it was because God had a mystery dispensation where Jew and Gentile would make up a brand new stewardship in the world called the Body of Christ (see chapter on the Dispensation of Grace), Ephesians 3:2-6, Ephesians 1:22-23.
The fourth wrong interpretation made is at Pentecost - where some teach a new dispensation began instead of being another stage in the Dispensation of Promise foretold by the prophets to the Nation of Israel. At Acts two the New Covenant became operational as foretold to Israel in the Old Testament. Joel's prophecy was in fulfillment as prophesied, and would have been fully fulfilled if God had not stopped working through the Dispensation of Promise to the world, through Nation of Israel, Acts 2:14-23. If the mystery dispensation had not been inserted or overlaid in God's dealings with the world the tribulation period would have started, (see chapter on overlaid and inserted). Now the Tribulation period will not start until the Dispensation of Grace is taken out of the world and only then, God will go back and finishes his program that brings the Dispensation of the Earthly Kingdom with the Nation of Israel as the leadership stewardship institution.
Many arguments from covenant theologians and dispensational theologians has been caused because of wrong interpretations. Also, within dispensational circles much of the confusion has been caused because of the these misinterpretations. This has led many sincere believers rejecting their teachings because of inconsistencies. Both those of the covenant persuasion and dispensational persuasion have truths which bring the message of God to the world, but a correct understanding of interpretation would bring glory to God. Let us try to unify the two positions in clearing up wrong interpretations.
If we start only by considering the Redemptive Covenant as the markings of truth down though the history of humanity since the beginning of creation, and make it our primary guide it would look as follows:
The substance of the Redemptive Covenant is a universal. The Covenant transcends all the dispensations and does not change by the dispensations. Dispensations move forward the Redemptive Covenant not in reverse.
So if you are a believer who marks time with this covenant, you have to reconcile the whole Word of God from that perspective. If you deny that dispensations exist or do not change over history and say there is only one dispensation, you have to spiritualize much of the teachings of scripture. The only true way of reconciling God's word without spiritualizing would be for you to accept that there are different dispensations. The discovery of dispensational truths will free you and you do not have to misinterpret God's Word. Keeping covenants as covenants and dispensations as dispensations, and only then can a reconciliation be made with dispensational and covenant truths.
On the other hand if you are a dispensationalist and try to mark the changing of a dispensation by the stages of the Redemptive covenant you are in error in confusing the teaching. Additionally, if you try as many have done by mixing the wrong interpretations mentioned above, you have an inconsistency, which has lead to much confusion over the years. Dispensational teaching give consistentcey in the symmetry which God has designed or as He intended it, and not making it what He had not planned, or including wrong elements which do not make a dispensation. Contradictions develop when wrong exegesis or hermeneutics are used.
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World Wide Outreach
By: Theodore D Pestor/ President/Pastor BTH