Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Adult Sunday School Notes -

Part I: A Biblical Apologetic For Dispensationalism
  1. Introduction
    1. Protestant Reformed believers and the Roman Catholic Church hold to "amillennialism," which view claims (1) there is no post-Armageddon thousand year reign of Christ as Revelation 19:17-20:6 literally teaches, but that His Kingdom is the era between His first and second advents when the Church produces a golden era climaxed by Christ's return, John F. Walvoord, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation , 1976, p. 11-15. (2) Amillennialism also asserts that the Church replaces Israel in God's plan so that Israel will NOT have a literal worldwide Messianic Kingdom, a view that often leads to negativism toward Israel.
    2. We at Nepaug Church hold to "dispensationalism," the belief that the Church has not replaced Israel in God's plan, but that there is a literal future, worldwide, thousand-year, Messianic Kingdom of Christ over Israel. Thus, dispensationalists hold that the Church is NOT to try to set up a Christian worldwide golden era, but look for the pretribulation rapture of the Church and disciple people for Christ's future return.
    3. These differing views are based on whether one rejects dispensationalism as do amillennialists, or if he adopts it as we do, so we need to discern if Scripture teaches dispensationalism (as follows):
  2. A Biblical Apologetic For Dispensationalism
    1. The KJV uses the word "dispensation" four times: 1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 1:10; 3:2 and Col. 1:25 (Strong's Ex. Con. of the Bib., p. 268). Ephesians 1:10 mentions the future dispensation of "the fulness of times" where the other passages refer to the Church. If th e Church began in Acts 2, there must be a dispensation before it, so Scripture presents at least three dispensations (C. C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, 1970, p. 50).
    2. The Greek word the KJV translates as "dispensation" is oikonomia (Ibid., Strong, p. 51, no. 3622), and it describes an economic arrangement in Jesus' era, otherwise translated a "stewardship," where a master appoints one of his servants to oversee his family and estate in his absence, with this servant, upon the master's return, being required to give an accounting to the master of his "dispensing" of the master's livelihood assets for the upkeep of his family and his estate, cf. Luke 16:1-5 KJV.
    3. Hence, a Biblical, spiritual "dispensation" is an arrangement in history whereby God assigns a set of regulations under His servant(s) for the oversight of His people in a set time period in human history.
    4. Whether or not one holds to dispensationalism and the distinctiveness of Israel as opposed to the Church has depended in Church History on how consistently literal he is in interpreting the Bible (as follows):
      1. Augustine in the 4th and 5th centuries A. D. adopted the literal, historical and grammatical approach to non-prophetic passages, but the nonliteral, figurative approach to prophecy, Ibid., Walvoord, p. 12.
      2. The Roman Catholic Church and Protestant Reformers followed Augustine's method of interpretation, thus viewing the Church as replacing Israel in God's plan, and turning amillennial, Ibid., p. 12-13.
      3. However, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, conservative Christians in the prophetic conference movement (Ibid., p. 13), adopting a consistently literal approach to ALL of Scripture, even of prophecy, arrived at the "dispensational" viewpoint of the Bible, Ibid., Ryrie, p. 86-109.
    5. Of note, Christ Himself exampled the consistently literal method of interpreting Scripture:
      1. In Matthew 5:18 KJV, Jesus said "one jot or one tittle" will not pass from the law till "all be fulfilled."
      2. A "jot" is "the smallest Hebrew letter, yodh," and a "tittle" is a "small extension or protrusion" on a Hebrew letter that distinguishes it from a similar one, Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978, ftn. to Matt. 5:18.
      3. Now, the identity of such a letter logically affects the literal meaning of the word of which it is a part.
      4. Well, Jesus in Matthew 5:18, in focusing on the literal meaning of Scripture's words, happened to be discussing all the prophetic parts of Scripture, meaning He practiced the consistently literal way to interpret ALL Scripture, the intrepretive methodology that leads to dispensationalism!
    6. Indeed, Jesus Himself held to dispensationalism: just before He ascended and His disciples in Acts 1:6-7 asked if He would then restore the Kingdom to Israel, Jesus did NOT as an amillennialist DENY Israel would have a Kingdom as if the Church had replaced her in God's plan, but claimed His disciples would not then know it. That is the dispensational view, that Israel's Kingdom comes at another [later] time!
Lesson and Application: Jesus used the consistently literal method of interpreting all of Scripture, which methodology leads to dispensationalism, so we heed His example and hold to dispensationalism!