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Dispensations:  Why do so few churches teach about this?

Gary Googe Nov 06

One of the first things you need to realize is that as a believer who has placed your faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as the sole basis for your salvation, you are in a minority.  God’s people have always had to deal with this minority position on many issues.  The majority of people are often wrong about a lot of things, especially the means to salvation. But understanding and believing the doctrine of dispensations puts you in an even smaller minority.  So, I can understand why any believer would wonder about this.  It is easy to assume that because so few embrace it, it must not be true.  Many believers have never even heard of it, let alone understood it.  It isn’t even taught [or taught correctly] in most seminaries.  But none of this should surprise us.  Most people have always been blind to spiritual truths, even “religious” leaders.  Please note what our Lord said about those in the time of His earthly ministry.

Matthew 15:14

14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. [Emphasis added]

We have people like this today. I hate that it’s this way, but if you’re in a large so-called “megachurch” today, you’re probably not in a place where you’re going to get the right teaching on this subject and many others.  Such places just don’t exist and apparently never have.  Again, the people who’ve enjoyed the right teaching have never been a part of large churches. In the first century or so believers all met in homes.  Even small buildings that were set aside for such meetings didn’t exist.  It seems that nothing has changed about this.  God’s truth just isn’t and never has been popular with most people.  Please note the apostle Paul’s words near the end of his fabulous ministry.

2 Timothy 1:15

15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. [Emphasis added]

This represented a large area where he had ministered faithfully.

Even in the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry, there were precious few who accepted the truths He presented about salvation and more.

Matthew 7:13-15

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. [Emphasis added]

The assumption among many is that since dispensational Bible study is so rare and embraced by so few, it must not be true.  However, because of what I’ve learned through the years, I know that if many millions were embracing it, there would be something wrong with it.  God’s people have always been few compared to the masses of humanity.  The records of history are clear on this. 

Even in the Garden of Eden it was just Adam and Eve.  But look what happened! They disobeyed a simple and clear command.  And this sort of thing has now been going on with millions of people for many centuries.  The fact has always been that the majority is usually wrong about a lot of things, but especially in spiritual matters. There’s never been a time when it was any other way.

 Recently my wife and I along with our grandson and his wife visited The Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky.  What an amazing place? Who could experience that and deny the story of Noah, his family, and the ark? But in that case, you have just Noah and the seven others of his family that survived God’s judgment upon the Earth.  All the others, the majority, perished! That’s amazing when you consider that it is likely that there were more people living on Earth then than there are now.  When people had been living for many hundreds of years it is easy to see how there was a population explosion.  Such judgments as the flood will happen again in a future time when Jesus Christ comes back to the Earth bringing pain and suffering upon all who have rejected His love, His mercy, and His one simple way of salvation 

The story of Noah begins in Genesis 6.  Then we have our Lord’s comments about it during His earthly ministry. 

Matthew 24:37-38

37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Please note that the story of Noah is factual, not fictional.  If it is fictional, Jesus was a liar.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, [Emphasis added]

This tells us life was going on as usual but suddenly there was a worldwide flood.  That’s why fossil remains of sea creatures are now found on mountain tops.  All this tells us that clear warning is being given.  God’s judgment is coming again.  The only way to be saved from it is to accept God’s provision for it.  That’s why this message of all messages is called the gospel, meaning good news.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel [EUANGELION = the good news] which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

On this website, at the time I’m writing this article, you’ll find these other articles about The Dispensations.  I hope you’ll read and study them all.

Dispensation:  How is this defined in the Bible?

Dispensation:  What does this term mean?

Dispensations:  What is this about?

Dispensations:  When did ours begin?

This article is about the scarcity of information on this subject among churchgoers.  The first thing you must realize about this is that spiritual truth is always something you’ll have to search for to find.  Some people get to grow up in a family where it is taught, but that is rare.  Even on this subject of dispensations, among those who believe it, you’ll find controversy and division. You’ll find that there are basically four groups who believe in different forms of dispensational theology.  There’s some overlap and agreement but there are also some differences and some disagreement.  So much of the controversy begins with when this present dispensation of the Grace of God began.  There are four verses in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible where this word dispensation is used.  Here’s the one we will focus on in this study.

Ephesians 3:2-3

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me [the apostle Paul] to you-ward:

How that by revelation he made known unto me [Paul] the mystery [MUSTERION = secret]; (as I wrote afore in few words, [Emphasis added]

The heart of this mystery was that He was going to create one body of people made up of both Jews and Gentiles.  Since the time of Abraham, God’s people consisted of only Jews.  This situation changed when this present dispensation was introduced to the apostle Paul.  A new dispensation began when he was saved.

1 Timothy 1:16

16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. [Emphasis added]

From the time of Paul’s salvation on [recorded in Acts 9], many things would change and be different from what went before.

Romans 12:5

So we [God’s people, believers being made up of both Jews and Gentiles], being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. [Emphasis added]

It is the Holy Spirit who unites us into one body of believers.  This happens the moment we are saved as a work of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. [Emphasis added]

It is this that is the one baptism that rightfully exists in our time.  There’s no water involved in it at all.

Ephesians 4:5

One Lord, one faith, one baptism, [Emphasis added]

Salvation and what happens to a believer at the point of his salvation and beyond is quite different and better today from what it was in the days of Noah.  But some things haven’t changed, namely things like God’s love and His justice.  The God who judged the world in Noah’s day will do it again at Christ’s return to the Earth after a seven-year period of tribulation.  And once again it will be only a small minority who are saved from it. 

We have another minority period to note in this study in the days Elijah and his dealings with King Ahab and Jezebel.  We are told in 1 Kings 19:18 that of many millions only 7,000 were faithful believers who had not slipped into idolatry.  The apostle Paul later speaks of this.

Romans 11:4

But what saith the answer of God unto him [Elijah]? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. [Emphasis added]

Later, in the days of the prophet Isaiah [around 700 B.C.] we see a similar situation.  We find him crying out to God in his frustration.  He is surrounded by unbelievers.

Isaiah 53:1

1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? [Emphasis added]

There was only a very small remnant of faithful believers when he began his ministry.

Isaiah 1:9

Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. [Emphasis added]

After many years of declaring the truth, it seemed there was very little to show for it because there were so few who responded with faith.  Again, things haven’t changed.  God’s dedicated ones are always a very small minority.  But as I remember first saying over fifty years ago, “I’d rather be in God’s minority than the devil’s majority.”

Then, as we’ve already noted earlier in this article [Matthew 7:13-15], there were very few faithful ones in the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry. Even if you think of the crowds of thousands that Christ miraculously fed as He was teaching, that is a small minority of the nation’s citizenship.  God’s people were so few in number that they are called a little flock

Luke 12:32

32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. [Emphasis added]

Then, after that, we have the historical book of Acts.  Were things different in this matter then? Not at all! The negative volition toward truth continued. Note Paul’s last words in Luke’s book of historical information.

Acts 28:25-28

25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,

26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:

27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. [Emphasis added]

Then note Paul’s comments about them in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 11:5

Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. [Emphasis added]

Now as a people living in that period of grace, we have our situation today here in America.  Although we have church buildings on many prime corners of real estate, the disinterest and rejection of truth continues.  So much of what goes on in these places is a lot of ritual without the reality of substance.  Most local churches are more like social clubs than anything else.  Very little goes on in actual worship in spirit and in truth.

Some Bible teachers suppose that the thousands reported around the ministry of Christ represent a great spiritual revival in the nation.  Such was not the case! These people were there for the healing sessions and the free meals, not the teaching of spiritual truth.  The day Christ made his “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem things looked promising.  But this was because Jesus had spoken of establishing a kingdom on Earth.  They wanted to see him run the Roman army out of town.  It was that which was their primary interest not God and His Word.  By the time you get to the time of Acts 1 we see only 120 believers gathered in Jerusalem.  Today people might argue, “How could only these few be right and the millions of others there in Israel and scattered throughout the Roman Empire be wrong?

By the time the apostle Paul was completing his life and ministry he had spread the gospel message into many areas with some degree of positive response.  But as we noted earlier in this article, many of those people were later rejecting his teaching.

Again, 2 Timothy 1:15

15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. [Emphasis added]

Antioch of Pisidia [Acts chapter 13], Colosse, Lystra and Derbe [Acts chapters 14 and 16], Galatia [Acts chapters 14 and 18], and Ephesus [Acts chapter 19], had once been chief cities and regions in Paul’s ministry. Now, at the writing of 2 Timothy, as his ministry was drawing to a close, the believers of Asia and others had fallen away from him and his teaching.  The last part of the book of Acts gives us the record of that.

Conclusion—

The simple but correct answer to our question about why there are so few saved people today is that most people have been distracted away from the Creator to the things of the creation.  If you have any doubt about that, just look at the turnout for NFL games.  Many people will sit out in inclement weather and pay enormous prices for seats, let alone other expenses that may be involved in being there.  People are far more interested in temporal things, rather than the eternal. 

Today, we have roughly 8 billion people on Earth.  Only about one-fourth of them claim to be Christians.  About half of those are Protestants and the other half are Roman Catholics.  It doesn’t take much study of the Bible to see that what the majority of these people are trusting in for salvation will not provide it for them.  The simple but essential issues for salvation are only grace and faith.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added]

The vast majority of people do not believe this.  They’ve been convinced that some form of works they perform provides them with salvation and a “ticket” into Heaven.  Such a belief is simply not true.  The apostle Paul who is our apostle today tells us our works have nothing to do with it.

Romans 4:4-5

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Emphasis added]

Maybe if I quote this and similar passages enough, some people will believe it. Are you one of them? The object of one’s faith for salvation must be solely the work of Jesus Christ on the cross along with His burial and resurrection.

Again, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel [EUANGELION = the good news] which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

All the Bible is FOR us, but it is not all TO us or about us.  There are many passages of Scripture in the Bible that conflict with what you just read about the gospel message and the means to our salvation.  Without an understanding of this and the doctrine of dispensations, confusion is surely to result.  The existence of so many denominations with such a variety of beliefs is proof of this.  Most churchgoers cannot even give a clear explanation of the gospel message.  Therefore, they cannot be believing in something for salvation that they don’t understand.  What is your understanding of all this? What or Who are you depending on for your salvation? Only God can save you through your acceptance of what Jesus Christ provided for you.  Christ is the only way.

John 14:6

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. [Emphasis added]

Acts 4:12

12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. [Emphasis added]

It is as it was once told to a Philippian jailor.  It was faith in Christ that would save him, as it would for any of his household who also put their faith in Him.

Acts 16:31

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. [Emphasis added]

It is what Christ did for us on the cross and His resurrection that must be the object of our faith for salvation.  Otherwise, no salvation is provided.

2 Corinthians 5:21

21 For he [God the Father] hath made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

It is His righteousness and not our own that gives us everlasting salvation.

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