By Justin Johnson

Have you heard of God’s dispensations?


Mentioning the word dispensation is often returned with blank stares and confused faces. Yet, dispensation is a Bible word!

It appears four times in Paul’s epistles (Eph 3:2, 1 Cor 9:17, Col 1:25, Eph 1:10).

It describes how God works out his purpose in the world, and how he expects us to respond. In short, it is God’s will revealed.

Paul used the word to describe a change in God’s revealed purpose for humanity. God never changes, but his revealed will has changed.

When God gave promises to Abram anyone could be blessed simply by blessing Abram.

When God gave the law to Moses, Israel was required to obey, or else face the consequences.

When Paul received a dispensation from God, it described a change in how God was working in the world from law to grace, from visible divine miracles to an unseen faith in the resurrected Lord.

When passages and instructions in the Bible fall under another dispensation, this means they describe a time when God was doing a different work, and required a different response from humanity.

Under the law, it was forbidden by God to eat certain meats (Lev 11:8).

Under grace, if anyone forbade eating certain meats they were teaching the doctrine of devils desiring to confuse (1 Tim 4:1-3).

Obeying God’s instructions for a different dispensation is disobedience to God now.

If God expects us to respond to him by faith in Christ’s cross, and we respond to him with sacrifices under the law, or our good works, we would be wrong.

Even though God commanded sacrifices under a different dispensation, he is no longer doing so now.

When people refuse dispensational understanding, they are opening the door to disobedience and ignorance of God’s will.

The church in America and evangelical Christianity at large has resisted dispensational teaching for nearly a century.

As a result, there is more confused about God’s will, and lack of understanding about the Bible than a century ago.

It’s about time we heard more about God’s dispensations, and bring clarity to what God is doing today.

“Whereof I [Paul] am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery…” – Col 1:25-26

For a good place to start learning the different dispensations of God see our dispensational charts here.

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Published: October 11, 2014
Last Modified: October 11, 2014
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