Dispensationalism

Hourglass_2OK – So dispensationalism is the method of theology that I would subscribe to. Here are some the basics for this ideaology:

1. A consistently literal interpretation of the Scriptures.

2. A definite difference between Israel and the church. (Covenant theologians say that the church replaced Israel as God’s chosen people.)

3. The main theme of the Bible is God’s glory. (Covenant theologians say it’s salvation of man.) I don’t understand how anyone could really think the world revolves around man instead of it being about God. I mean, does the watchmaker make the watch for Himself or for the sake of the watch?

Here’s how it works:
From the beginning of history God has been showing off His glory. One way He has done that is by saving man. That salvation has always been by grace through faith, but it has looked a little different throughout the ages. Each of these eras is called a dispensation. This is the most popular way of dividing up the dispensations:

1. Innocence – Before Adam’s fall. (Gen 1:28-3:6)
2. Conscience – Roman’s 2:15 shows that God dealt with man through his conscience after the fall. Man was to respond in faith based upon the convictions of his conscience. (Gen 4:1-8:14)
3. Government – Noahic covenant comes in here. God dealt with man by a government which included animals’ fear of man and capital punishment. (Gen 8:15-11:9)
4. Promise – God dealt with man (the patriarchs) by making promises to them and expecting them to respond in faith (Gen 11:10 – Ex 18:27)
5. Mosaic Law – God dealt with man by instituting the sacrificial system in which man was to respond in faith to God through the sacrifice. (Ex 19:1 – Acts 1:26)
6. Grace – This current dispensation is sometimes called the “church age.” God has dealt with man through a special grace offered to him through Jesus Christ. Man expresses faith by responding appropriately to the substitutionary death of Christ. (Acts 2:1 – Rev 19:21)
7. Millennium – God will deal more directly with man during the Millennial reign of Christ on the earth. (Rev 20:4-6)

Notice that man is asked to express faith in each dispensation. (It just may be a different way of expressing it from one dispensation to the next.) Salvation is always by grace through faith.

Just because a dispensation is over, does not mean that everything has changed. Some requirements found in an older dispensation may still be in effect – others may be abandoned or modified.

It’s also interesting to note that history of the dispensations is pretty cyclical. First, God sets up a dispensation and tests man’s obedience to it. Second, man fails. Third, God judges man, and eventually He arranges for a new plan/dispensation. The picture is one of stewardship. God (in His authority) gives man a duty which he is responsible for carrying it out. When and if he fails, the Master has the right to judge man and hold him accountable for his actions.

Anyway, there you have it – Dispensationalism all rolled up into one page.

My life will be lived differently in regards to how I relate to Israel. I can maintain a genuine respect and love for them as God’s chosen people. I will continue to share the gospel with them, but knowing that God has a plan for them beyond this dispensation helps me to be more appreciative of their stance in holding on to the promises of God.

Questions for Paul

Question_2
I thought this was a cool pic – even the earth has questions!

The Corinthians were given the chance to ask Paul some questions – you can read Paul’s answers to them in 1 Corinthians 7:1-16:4. Dr Loken took some time out of class the other night to have each of us write down the one question we’d ask Paul if we were given the chance.

Mine was:
In what ways do you see that our “Christian” culture today has been deceived, and how should we repent?

Here are some of the other questions people would like to ask Paul:
Do babies who die go to heaven, and if so, how is Jesus the only way? (Dr. Loken)
Why did God use you?
What was your thorn in the flesh?
What limits should be allowed when it comes to alcohol?
Why is it so hard to lead a sinless life?
Should women be in ministry and if so, to what extent?
Abortion?
Should a pastor serve at more than one church?
How do you deal with doctrinal differences in church?
What is “triple honor” and “double honor?” (1 Timothy 5:17)
What is the “cup of the Lord?” (Hab 2:16)
Spiritual gifts?
Why is it so hard to do what is right sometimes and not other times?
Were you always celebate? Did you ever have a girlfriend or wife?
Female leaders in church?
How can I know for sure what to do?
Under what conditions is divorce okay?
Can the church discipline without excommunication?
Speaking in tongues?
Would you be Calvinist or Arminian?
How does the Trinity work?

Anyway, I thought there were some good questions. What would you ask him if you had the chance?

Welcoming or Welcomed?

Welcome I had a random thought today when I was in the shower. (The shower seems to be a good place to think.) Anyway, I’m not even sure why, but I was thinking about what it means to be a “Welcoming Congregation.” For some reason, that phrase “Welcoming Congregation” was in my head. I don’t know maybe it was an official title that my previous church was trying to obtain through some sort of higher organization, or maybe it was just a phrase someone used in a conference – I honestly can’t remember. Anyway, I think every church should be really good at welcoming, but I wondered this morning if we as the church might oughta strive for something else besides being a “welcoming congregation.”

Here’s what I was thinking: Instead of working towards being “welcoming,” what would the church look like if we worked towards being “welcomed?” Instead of focusing on welcoming the visitors that we have in church, what if we focused on being the visitors who were out and about the community serving others. Trying to be the kind of people that others would “welcome” into their lives. Instead of trying so hard to have our church services attract visitors so we could welcome them, what if we tried to be attractive people who sought to be welcomed? What if the church went to the community with blessings instead of blessing the community when they come to church?

Anyway, all this is to say: Lord, help me to be attractive and welcomed into the lives of the people I come in contact with. I truly want to be a blessing to others and it’s only by Your Spirit that this can happen. Fill me with You Spirit.

Check out this post too: 3rd Space

A Real Church

06-02-06I was thinking about the church in Acts 2, and wondered what it was really like. I experienced a group of people a few weeks ago that I think may have come pretty close. Joe, the guy who was my youth minister when I was in High School, holds a Bible Study at his house on Tuesday nights. I was in Ft. Worth a few weeks ago for a conference and dropped in on them – I surprised Joe – It was great fun to see the look on his face when I walked in. It’s a beautiful community of people. They truly celebrated Jesus and seem to really work/walk through life together. I witnessed accountability, support, discipleship, joy, passion, prayer, fellowship, worship, concerns for mission and ministries. Acts talks about how the people had everything in common – I sensed a true sharing among them that night – like if someone had a need, together they’d find a way to fill it. I know it’s only from the outside looking in, but it seems to me that what they are enjoying is truly what church is supposed to be. I wonder what it would take to develop that kind of community right here where I am? I wonder what else God would desire for a community that my imagination can’t even dream? How can I really invest in people and simply give myself “to” them and “for” God’s glory?

Joe, If you’re reading this, thanks for letting me sit in – I’m encouraged by my experience with you.