The working of the Seven Guiding Principles or Keys that unlock the understanding to the Seven Biblical Dispensations
Understanding the keys or guiding principles are the basis for the understanding of dispensations. Biblical continuity and clarity of a dispensation reveals the symmetry in God's working throughout the Bible. The understanding of the symmetry reveals how the Biblical events are tied together, opening one's own heart and mind to God's awesome workings in redeeming humanity.
Dispensations reflect Godís characteristics relating to His unity (deity), design (creation) and order (symmetry), only God could design such a plan because He alone knows the beginning to the end, Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13, Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-4, 14, Ephesians 1:4, Hebrews 1:10. God is eternal and transcendent, entering and working in the lives of the human race. Dispensational truths show that God is not a god of confusion or chance, but of order, 'working in and working out' His plans throughout the history of humanity showing design. A dispensation reveals the governing guidelines in which a man lives out his responsibilities, privileges and consequences.
God desires an individual not out of compulsion or duty to relate and fellowship to Him, but wants one's heart filled with appreciation and showing thankfulness - (Humanity is called to thankfulness,- Colossians 2:7, 3:15, 4:2, Hebrews 12:28,) - (Not giving thanks is a broken relationship Romans 1:18-22). He has offered His relationship as a gift since creation to all humanity, but only those who have received His gift through the Gospel can experience the full scope of the relationship, Genesis 2-4, Romans 4:1-8; Romans 6:23, John 3:16, Titus 3:5, II Corinthians 4:1-7.
The following seven Dispensations have these guiding principles or keys showing the consistency of design, order, and unity of God's working. Dispensational truths bring life and beauty through the symmetry of design, and keeping one from being tossed about by confusion.
The seven keys or principles of a dispensation all occur in the historical economy of each dispensation, if they do not occur then, the dispensation does not change. Whenever a new dispensation begins, God can give new rules or modify the old rules, which make changes within the new dispensation. A new dispensation starts at the failure of the one operating at the time, this failure starts a period of transition. Where by the old dispensation starts decreasing and the new dispensation begins and starts increasing until the new is in full control. All seven keys are seen in each dispensation governing as a dispensation goes through its operation.
If a dispensation does not have a failure of sin that resulted in God's long-suffering coming to an end, a dispensation would not change. The last dispensation, the Dispensation of the Fullness of Time, does not have a failure, therefore, no punitive judgment or transition period is needed, Ephesians 1:10.
Also the first dispensation, the Dispensation of Innocence had no beginning dispensational transition because sin had not occurred. God called everything into existence, and creation was perfect, no failure proceeded the beginning of creation, Genesis 1-2. If humanity had not sinned in the Garden of Eden there would only have been one dispensation for all eternity, Genesis 3:22-23.
The Seven found within a dispensation:
By these seven guiding truths or principles, there is a consistent guideline to each of the seven dispensations. They will function in all seven of the dispensations, and if there is no failure then, there will not be a need for a new dispensation.
1.) First key or guiding principle to dispensational understanding is Universal truths. They are incorporated with God's eternal Holy character, righteousness, and justice. Also, the universal truths are in keeping with the laws of creation, whether already revealed or still hidden in Him to be revealed in a latter dispensation, Mark 13:31, II Timothy 2:15, Titus 1:3, Psalm 119:89,103, 130, 160, 12:6, 18:30, 33:4, 6, 68:11, 105:7-9:
a. God is eternal, demonstrating grace, mercy, love, etc. through the dispensations, Romans 5:1-11, I John 3:1, 4:7-21, Galatians 5:22-23.
b. A man or woman will always be male or female they will not change sexes. God's creation will always be of the kind He made them, Genesis 1:21, 27, 2:9, Matthew 19:4.
c. Man is created eternal, he is to be responsible to trust God, and be obedient, Ecclesiastes 3:11.
d. The earth is held together by God, and His created formulas, matter will always be of His created substance that exists in the universe. Psalms 19, Psalm 3:5, Job 32-42, Isaiah 55:6.
The new universal truths within the dispensations are given as He reveals them to humanity in history, they are included along with those that have come forward from eternity or former dispensations. The new universal laws and truths revealed, can come at the beginning of a dispensation or as it is unfolding.
The universal truths, past, present, or future truths are revealed in God's timing, and though they were revealed latter in history does not mean they are not universal or less important. However, they do have a connection with what God is doing in the particular dispensation operating. No universal truth contradict a previous universal truth.
For example: the 10 commandments were given over two-thousand years after creation and three dispensations had come and gone. The 10 commandments were moral and holy before they were given to humanity, even though they were not known until revealed through the Law of Moses. The Bible says the law was added to the dispensation showing God's holiness and an individual's inability in keeping the law. The Law shows a person their sinful state and their sinfulness very clearly, Romans 3:19,20, and his inability in keeping the law, Romans 7:7-13, Galatians 3:19.
Another example of universal truths was the laws of redemption which the provision and the incarnation of God in the flesh was revealed, Philippians 2:5-11. Revelation was historically and progressively revealed to humanity from eternity past, now, and in the future that is being carried out over the time of the seven dispensations, Galatians 4:4-5, John 1:1,14, Romans 5:6, Ephesians 1:4, John 17:5, Genesis 3:15, Revelation 22.
The universal truths revealed in God's word are never to be violated by man's scientific research and discovery. The Word of God is the guide, and is to be used when true scientific adventure is undertaken - 'the end does not justify the means'. If dispensational studies, along with Systematic Theology studies, used together as a guide in discovering of truth, there would not have been the violations or contradictions in understanding. True science in discovering the universe, God can be seen as the creator, and sustainer of humanity, bringing honor to God and His righteousness, Romans 1:18-23, Hebrews 1:2, 11:3, II Corinthians 1:12, 7:1.
2.) Second key or guiding principle found within a dispensation are the rules that changed or were modified because of manís failure in the former dispensation within God's plan.
Examples of Rules that Changed:
a. The environment horticulture changed from Genesis 3:17-19, no weeds and thistles to the producing unwanted, and noxious weeds and thistles. The watering of the vegetation prior to the flood changed after the flood to include life giving rain from the sky, Genesis 2:6, Genesis 6:17; 7:11,12; 9:8-14.
b. The canopy of water over the earth changed, and completely ceased after the flood, Genesis 7:4, 10-11.
c. The dispensational rules of the dietary consumption changed from eating only seed bearing vegetation Genesis 3:19; 9:3, to the eating of animals after the flood Genesis 9:1-6. It changes again in the next dispensation, Dispensation of Promise to eating only certain animals Leviticus 11:1-47, and today's dispensation, the Dispensation of Grace we can eat all kinds of animals Romans 14:14,20, I Timothy 4:3. Finally, in the Dispensation of the Fullness of time to be able once again to eat from the Tree of Life and there will be no longer animals eaten for food, Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 13-15, 19.
d. There are those dispensational changes and modifications with the earth's governments, the first dispensation, Angels and Adam and Eve, second dispensation, the family head ruling, receiving direction directly from God Genesis 2:15-18; 4:1-16; 6:13-22, third dispensation, to the populace with kings, priests and prophets until the Tower of Babel and through a transitional period, Genesis 11:1-4, the fourth dispensation includes many nations with individual responsibility who were to give allegiances to a special chosen family, (Abraham's) and his family offspring, (Nation of Israel), Genesis 12:1-3, Romans 13:1-7. Today the fifth dispensation, through a continuous government, rulers ordained by God for every nation on earth with an organism call the Body of Christ in the Dispensation of Grace that is made up of believers who are to be the heralds of the Gospel, and having the ambassadorship of reconciled to the world, proclaiming the truths of God, Ephesians 1:18-23; 2:14-18. The sixth dispensation a continuation of multiple governments ordained of God and ruled through a remnant of Jewish people saved through the Tribulation period, Zephaniah 3:8-20, and the New Nation of Israel will rule with all the redeemed under the Messiah. The seventh dispensation completes God's plan, and be ruled and organized by the trinity with God the Father as head, in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Time, Ephesians 1:10, Revelation 22:12-17, I Corinthians 15:27,28, John 10:30, John 13:3, John 17:5, I Corinthians 15:23-25.
e. There are dispensational changes in the approaching of God Genesis 3:8-9, through the family head acting as priest, Genesis 4:1-5; 7:1; 8:20-21; Job 1:1-5, then an earthly priestly order Hebrews 10:11. After the New Covenant became operational, there was no earthy priest, but a heavenly One Hebrews 10: 5-18, by the One Mediator, (our LORD Jesus) and no animal sacrifice, Hebrews 9:11-22.
Note: All the examples given above are understood clearly from a dispensational examination, in the following chapters they will be explained dispensationally, and it will show how they all fit together and unify God's total plan working to redeem humanity.
3.) Third key or guiding principle of a dispensation is, New Rules which govern the new Dispensation's operation. These are unique to the new dispensation, and not found in the proceeding dispensation. However, are many unique rules in every dispensation which govern the stewards and the way they are to carry out the dispensation. This include ways the revealed covenants from God will be carried out, they do not change the covenants, but give the rule for fulfilling or carrying out the covenants within the dispensation. These rules do change the everyday manifestation of the responsibilities in living out the dispensation.
Examples of New Rules:
a. A new livelihood for taking care of the Garden of Eden to expulsion, and responsibility to taking care of a cursed earth, Romans 8:18-25.
b. New rules which govern the ways to handle a murderer and capital punishment, Genesis 4:4-16, 9:4-7, Leviticus 20, Exodus 21, Numbers 35, Romans 13.
c. In the third dispensation there are very few examples to any specific rules recorded, the Bible records little about the dispensation details. It is known that the people on earth were not to build a tower for religious reasons, but they did and by doing so brought a punitive judgment affecting the whole earth.
The Word as given does give some aspects to the understanding about the people at this time, they had a unified language, and the people worked in conjunction with each other, the governments were unified in one endeavor showing or demonstrating the unity that existed, compare Genesis 10 with Genesis 11. They also had developed a priesthood having prophets, kings, Melchizedek was a priest/king Genesis 14:17-20, Mosesís father-in-law was from Midian a priest, Exodus 2:16; 3:1; 18:1, and Balaam who was a corrupt prophet by the time of the Dispensation of Promise, Numbers 22, Joshua 13:22, II Peter 2:15, Revelation 2:14.
d. Dispensationally, Abraham was given new rules for fulfilling and carrying out the covenant, Genesis 15, Deuteronomy 29, 30:1-10. The one covenant encompassed and contained three covenants within the one, and they were active in the development of the kingdom nation. The three covenants make one, but each had their unique aspects, without changing the other. When, the New Testament refers back to this particular time, it reveals the uniqueness of each covenant and speaks of them in singular terms. Defining the dispensational rule from the covenants are very important.
Examples: Romans 9:4, Ephesians 2:12, "the covenants of the promise,"Galatians 3:15-18, "aside the covenant,"Acts 7:8, "gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision,"Acts 3:25, Luke 1:71-75" to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham" and the land as an everlasting covenant, Psalm 105:8-11 "covenant he made with Abraham---to Israel is an everlasting covenant-----I will give the land of Canaan". He was given a special place the land of Israel in the Middle East, and dispensationally they were responsible to conquer and develop it, Genesis 17:7-8. With it came the covenant of circumcision, a seal of the first covenant given to Abraham, Genesis 17:9-14, Acts 7:8, and dispensationally they were to establish the kingdom in holiness, and worship Hebrews 9:1, the descendant's governing aspects and stewardship was to carry out the dispensation through the times of the patriots, judges and kings, Deuteronomy 29:9-15. And, last he was given the covenant of the savior the Messiah coming through one of his descendent, Genesis 17:15-22, Galatians 3:15-18. However, Abraham was given three covenants for a special Nation.
e. Dispensation of Grace has the unique rule of equality for all of humanity, and the believer's stewardship, in the church, called His Body are responsible to be His ambassadors to the world, Romans 10:12, Ephesians 1:22-23, 3:6, I Corinthians 12:27, Colossians 3:15. There is no difference between Jews and Gentiles both makeup this one organism together with equal responsibility, Ephesians 2:14-18. This church has the unique rules for believers for working together in their culture or government wherever believers find themselves, Ephesians 4:1-5. The gospel is to be preached and received by individual responding to the message of the church, the Body of Christ, Romans 1:16, 10:9-13, II Corinthians 5:18-23.
f. Governing rules in the Dispensation of the Kingdom are given directly by the Messiah, and His personal presence in His earthly rule, and the Nation of Israel's positional leadership will be responsible for dispensing the rules of Christ Jesus on earth, II Samuel 7:11-17, Revelation 19, 22:16, Isaiah 65.
g. Dispensation of the Fullness of Time has the governing rules unique to the redeemed for eternity where the redeemed will be superior to Angels, and there will be the chain of leadership that God will fully establish and reveal at that time for all eternity, I Corinthians 15:24.
4.) Fourth key or guiding principle is the stewardship, ordained of God, to fulfill His plan. God chose a stewardship institution to carry out the spiritual operation of the dispensation.
Examples: The stewards of the institution are to carry out God's spiritual plans revealed for the corresponding dispensation (or administration).
a. Stewardship institution men and angels, the first stewards were Adam in direct communication with God and Lucifer, Genesis 1:27-30, 2:16-17, 3:8-19, Ezekiel 28:11-19, cf. Genesis 3:1-6, 13-15, Hebrews 1:14.
b. Stewardship institution, the family heads, Genesis 4:1-6, Job 1:4-5.
c. In the past the stewardship institution was made up of the family heads working through government that consisted of kings, priests and prophets, Genesis 8:18-21, 9:4,5, 10 -11, Job 1:1-5, 42:7-10, Genesis 14:18, Hebrews 7:1, Numbers 22-24, Exodus 2:16, 18:1.
d. Followed in the next dispensation, Dispensation of Promise, the stewardship institution of a select family, (Abraham and his descendants the whole Nation of Israel), chosen for an earthly Kingdom, Genesis 12:1-4, 13:14-15; 15, 17, 21, Genesis 18:9-15, II Samuel 7.
e. Stewardship institution of personal equality through the Church (called His body an organism of all Jews and Gentiles having an equal approach and responsibility), Ephesians 1:22-23, Ephesians 2:14, Romans 11:1-24, II Corinthians 5:14-21.
f. Stewardship institution of a perfect kingdom, Christ's ruler and the redeemed staff. Christ Jesus reigns here on the earth in His earthly Kingdom with His ruling subordinates, the Nation of Israel in fulfillment of the covenant made to Abraham and David. The subordinate believers who lived through the tribulation period will rule with Him as subordinates, they will be in their natural bodies, Romans 11:25-27, Matthew 28:16-20. Along with the believers who went through the tribulation period, all the redeemed from all the other dispensations will rule, experiencing the Kingdom in their glorified bodies, I Corinthians 6:2,3 cf. I Thessalonians 4:15-17, Revelation 20:4.
g. Finally, the stewardship institution of God (Trinity) in His Eternal Kingdom, and ruled with all the redeemed saints from all dispensations, I Corinthians 15:27, 28.
5.) Fifth key or guiding principle is the failure of humanities obedience in their stewardship to carry out God's commands and desires. This key is very important, it is the cause of changing to a new dispensation. With the failure of the stewards, corruption becomes dominate, coupled in conjunction with God's long-suffering (great patience and being slow to anger), in His foreknowledge, purpose, and love (compassionate discipline), the dispensation begins to approach an end that starts transitionally into the next dispensation, Romans 9:22, II Peter 3:15, II Peter 3:9, I Peter 3:20, Galatians 5:22, Romans 2:4, Numbers 14:18, Exodus 34:6.
Examples of the Stewards failure resulting in sin and their lack of witnessing to the world in carrying out their responsibility in the dispensations:
a. Genesis 3:1-6, the first dispensation's failure came when Satan in conjunction with Adam and Eve sinned, disobeying God's command, (Stewardship: humanity in innocence).
b. Genesis 6:1-6, The second dispensation's failure, came when humanity did what was right in their own eyes or imaginations, (Stewardship: humanity under conscience).
c. Genesis 11:1-6, In the Third dispensation the kings, priest and prophets failed in their leadership and they encourage the people to build the Tower of Babel, the end result was the sin and a false human made worship when approaching God, (Stewardship: humanity under human government).
d. Isaiah 1, Acts 3:12-19; 7:51-53; 28:25-28, The next dispensation God's chosen Nation sinned in three ways, their failure of faith as His Nation by false worship, the synchronizing of the true God and adapting the beliefs of the other nations around them, and their failure to repent as a Nation. Before their final offer to repent came, they had deliberately rejected God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, (Stewardship: Israel, a beloved Nation of promise).
e. I Timothy 4:1-6, II Timothy 4:1-6, today, (Stewardship: the new organism of equality) the time will come when an apostate religion develops, promoting heresies within the church. Demonstrated by a compromising synchronism of the spirit of Antichrist into the Body of Christ, in the church's practices and witness.
f. Revelation 20:7-10, the sixth dispensation, many follow Satan's deception after his release from the bottomless pit, the heart of those born in the 1000yrs Kingdom will reject Christ, (Stewardship: a witness to the ones born in the perfect ruler-ship of King Jesus by believers).
g. John 3:16, I John 5:13, Revelation 22:12-14, the last dispensation there is no more sin or failure. Therefore, no transition and punitive judgment, (Stewardship: the eternal Kingdom of God, the Trinity does not fail).
6.) The sixth key or guiding principle is the Transition, transitions to the full operation of a new dispensation; this is where one dispensation decreases, and the new one come to maturity.
a. There are six transitions.
b. The first dispensation has no transition at the beginning and the last dispensation has non at the end. The first dispensation, God spoke the creation of the heavens and earth into existence (instantaneous), creating along with it a dispensation, Genesis 1, 2. The last dispensation never ends since there is no failure, the Dispensation of the Fullness of Time, Ephesians 1:10, Revelation 21, 22. The transition begins at the failure of the dispensation, with the new dispensation beginning in infancy.
c. A transition can be a short time or many years, time is not the controlling factor, it starts at the failure and completely ends at some point into the new dispensation. As stated before when an institutional stewardship fails, it brings Godís long-suffering and patience to an end, and because of the stewardshipís failure, the world lacks the witness of God, when the stewardship fails, it allows the permeation of sin to come upon humanity, and ultimately resulting in the punitive judgment from God.
7.) Finally, the seventh key or guiding principle is, the Punitive Judgment from God. After His long-suffering, and the exercising of His attributes, Godís punitive judgment is carried out. Also, with the completion of the judgment, which happens somewhere within the transition time that ends with the new dispensation taking priority, Romans 2:4-6, II Peter 3:9-10.
Examples of the punitive judgments:
a. Death, and a cursed world, with expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3:4, 13-24, Romans 5:12-19, Romans 8:19-23, Ephesians 2:1-3.
b. Worldwide flood, Genesis 6:13-17, chapter 7.
c. Humanity scattered throughout the earth to develop new languages and governments with the breaking up of the one world government. Possibly the color of skin came about at this time which caused isolation and inbreeding, Genesis 11:1-9.
d. Time of the Gentiles and the Tribulation period for the Nation of Israel as a whole end with Christ Jesus 2nd coming and destroying all non-believing Jews with non-believing Gentiles, at the Battle of Armageddon, Revelation 1-19; 20:1-3.
e. The end of the church dispensation today, called His Body, and after the Rapture, I Thessalonians 4:13-18, non-believers are left behind, going through the Tribulation period ending with the non-believers being fully destroyed by Christ Jesus's Coming, in the Battle of Armageddon, Revelation 16.
f. Satan will be released from Bottomless pit and the Battle of Gog and Magog will occur, ending with the Great White Throne Judgment, Revelation 20:7-15.
One important thing to remember, time does not govern or control the length of a dispensation, but the events of man's failure in the economy, coupled with God's long-suffering comes to an end. God gives mercy and grace and determines the length of the economy.
The first five dispensations, God does not give or reveal the length of time for the dispensation governing existence. However, the 6th and 7th dispensations God does reveal the length of time; it is a thousand-year for the earthly Millennial Reign of Christ Jesus, called the Dispensation of the Kingdom, Revelation 20:4-6, and the 7th Dispensation, is the Dispensation of the Fullness of Time is eternal, Revelation 21-22.
The Eternal Dispensation never fails and ends, but is completely under the redemption brought about by God, through Christ Jesus who is eternal, Ephesians 1:10, I Corinthians 15:27-28.
The seven principles or keys can be understood by looking at the makeup of a government today. Every government has principles which govern the administration.
1. Formation of a government, the governor establishes the rules of the administration.
2. There are rules that change or are modified from one administration ruler to the next.
3. There are new rules, which govern a new administration operations that are unique to the administration alone.
4. The administration has laws and rules added as the administration progresses.
5. A government ruler appoints stewards to carry out the goal of the administration.
6. There are those who fail to carry out the stewardship and the leader of the administration brings judgment.
7. There is a transition from one ruling administration to the next, (There are two transitions in every administration unless it never comes to an end - one at the beginning and the other at the end of the administration.).
God's Unfailing Character, Promises and Provision:
All of the events since the creation of this world are moving forward toward the Dispensation of the Fullness of Time, or the Eternal Kingdom of God, which is Godís end purpose in redeeming humanity historically. Dispensations are related to the different ways that God has shown His character governing in love, mercy and grace here on the earth. Each dispensation showed how men has responded in faith to God and His commandments or failed in their trusting faith.
All dispensations have failed or will fail because of human's rebel in carrying out their responsibility that was given to them by God. Except the Dispensation of the Fullness of Time, the last dispensation when God's actions on behalf of humanity will bring about the end of humanities failure, sin, death and Satan, Ephesians 1:10.
However, in all dispensations a remnant of humanity has believed, but as shown through the history of humanity, 'many will seek, but few find', 'wide is the path to destruction and narrow is the way which leads to life eternal', Matthew 7:14.
However, in spite of man's failure, we see Godís efforts in love, long-suffering, grace and mercy to all humanity, not wanting any to perish. He has further offered His redemption towards humanity through His Son, that Ďwhosoever will receive ití on a personal basis, will be saved. We see this unfold dispensationally as we understand the Bible and His Redemptive Covenant working through dispensations to humanity. The seven dispensations with the key principles that opens our eyes to the symmetry of God's total plan working out His redemption.
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World Wide Outreach Ministry Inc.
By: Theodore D Pestor/ President/Pastor BTH