Archive for June 6, 2009

Dispensation: Its Meaning, Affect, Distribution and Importance

June 6, 2009

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward (Ephesians 3:2).

The word used to translate “dispensation” is oikonomia; Paul uses this word four times in his epistles. Surprisingly many believers are completely unaware of its meaning and importance. It has been a long neglected subject by the majority of Bible students. Just what is a “dispensation?”

What Is The Meaning of the Word “Dispensation”?

The word dispensation has to do with the act of distribution, or dealing out; it is a divine administration, economy, or stewardship. Dispensation comes from the word dispense. It can be seen in the word dispensary.

A dispensation is not, as is commonly believed, a period of time. W.C. Vine in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words gives the following definition:

A dispensation is not a period or epoch (a common, but erroneous use of the word), but a mode of dealing, an arrangement, or administration of affairs.

How Do Dispensations Affect Me?

Throughout the Bible God has had different administrations (or dispensations). In God’s dispensations, as with that of the farmer, it is very important to do the work of the present season. For example, there are truths that belong to Israel that DO NOT belong to the Body of Christ. II Timothy 2:15 plainly gives us the answer:

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

Many try to follow the dispensations of the Hebrew Scriptures (Romans 15:4) or of Christ’s earthly ministry (Romans 15:8); but Paul was given the dispensation for us (Colossians 1:25-26, Ephesians 3:2-3, Romans 15:15-16, 16:25-26).

What Does This Present Dispensation “Dispense”?

… The dispensation of the grace of God (Ephesians 3:2).

The dispensation given to Paul for us today was one of God’s grace. This is the key to God’s progressive revelation regarding Himself and His plan of the ages. It is so important for the student of the Scriptures to recognize this wonderful truth. God’s present and pinnacle purpose is one of grace. He is dispensing, or dealing out His grace. We live in God’s grace dispensary. The Father’s sole mode of dealing is in grace.

What Is the Importance of Understanding the Dispensations?

And if a man strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully (II Timothy 2:5).

A participant in any race must follow the rules for that game or they will not win the prize. How sad it is that many believers, even though they are very sincere, won’t be “approved unto God” as regarding their service and conduct of life because they did not study with the purpose to “rightly divide the Word of Truth.” They have not become a part of God’s present purpose – of being a dispensary of the Father’s grace. They neither live in grace themselves, nor with others.

God did not give Paul the administering of a stewardship of grace so that we could simply make “dispensational charts;” but so that we would be receptors and channels of “the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7; 2:7).

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8).

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward (Ephesians 3:2).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
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The Dispensations

June 6, 2009

Whereof I Paul am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God (Colossians 1:25).

The study of the Bible cannot be by a hop-skip-and-jump method. One must “rightly divide” the Word of Truth in order to correctly understand God’s plan and purpose for the ages.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (II Timothy 2:15).

In Genesis 2:16-17 God commands Adam not to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree; but why has God not commanded us to refrain from eating from a certain tree?

The answer is found in “rightly dividing the word of truth.”

In Genesis 1:29 God limits man to a vegetarian diet; then in Genesis 9:3 He allows man to eat “every moving thing that liveth.” Under the Law of Moses certain animals were once again forbidden as “unclean;” but under the dispensation of Grace, God once again allows “every creature of God” (I Timothy 4:3-5) to be eaten. All of this is understood only by “rightly dividing” the Word of Truth.

Under the Mosaic Law, God commanded the observance of “holy days” and “sabbaths,” yet in Galatians 4:10 Paul condemns the observance of days. The only answer to these apparent contradictions is the right division of the Word of Truth.

Without the proper, God-ordained divisions in Scripture, one will end up confused and in error. What is true in one age is not necessarily true in another (note the words “present truth” as found in II Peter 1:12).

The Scriptures are the revelation from God of Himself, as well as His plan and purpose for the ages. They were given to us in “sundry times and in divers manners” (Hebrews 1:1) over a period of 1600 years, consisting of 66 separate books written by about 40 authors, including kings, priests, prophets, herdsmen, fishermen, a tax collector, a physician, etc.

Some who are blind to right division while reading through the Bible scream “contradiction,” while others misapply the Scriptures.

A farmer sets certain tasks for his household in the winter, others in the spring and summer, and yet still other tasks in the fall. Would we consider him to be inconsistent by these changes? Why, no; he is only consistently following the proper rules and plan of agriculture. So it is with God.

To rightly divide the Scriptures there are some essential divisions that must be made (everybody divides the Bible, even if it is only between the “Old” and “New” Testaments). One of the most important divisions is the dispensational one.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
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