We must dispense with dispensationalism



Very common among so-called evangelical free churches is a very popular ideology called dispensationalism, which deals with the nature of how God deals with His people(s), and how to interpret the Word of God. Yet, despite its popularity, it is only a fairly recently invented tradition, which imposes itself on the way these churches interpret the Bible. It is derived from the theologian John Nelson Darby from the 19th century. However much modern dispensationalists today have tried to distance themselves from the false teachings of Darby, yet they are trapped inside this system of theology stemming from a common base.

There are many different forms of dispensationalism which goes to show that error multiplies error. This system can get so convoluted at times that it is surprising that theologians would have even devised such a system. I could compare it to a Rubik’s cube, that however which way you turn the sides, you always have a side which is mixed up with colors that simply don’t fit in.

Let us cover the three main axioms of dispensationalism, and see what kind of theological consequences it bears.

First of all, dispensationalism most surprisingly claims that God has two people, the Jews and the Church. Furthermore, even more surprisingly, they devise some sort of principle based on which they divide the Word of Truth into sections which are meant separately for the Jews, and also separately for the Church. Lastly, dispensationalism claims that the history of mankind is split up into different eras or epochs called dispensations, in which the way God deals with His two peoples is different, and which ends in a test or probation that His people must pass in order to get to the next level. Very many times dispensationalism also is tied up with modern premilleniarism, which states that the so-called Church age will end in the rapture of the church into the air where it will meet Jesus, who will come back to Earth to rule for a period of one thousand literal years on the earth, when the earth will experience peace, joy and bounty. After this, satan will be loosed one last time to deceive the nations, for a short while, after which the White Throne Judgement will happen, and when people will be cast into hell or transferred to heaven.

Verses from the Bible which decisively refute the dispensationalism are numerous.


Two separate peoples?

For example as for the first axiom, it is described very well in 1Cor. 12:12-25. From this let us read an excerpt: “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. 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. For the body is not one member, but many.” (verses 12-14). This means that the church is the body of Christ. There is only one body, one Christ. Christ does not have a twin brother, meaning that there are no two peoples of Christ. The body of Christ can also not be divided (1Cor. 12:25) into two separate parts. Numerous verses show that after the sacrifice of the cross, there will be no distinction between Jews and Gentiles. This is because the Messiah had already come, and fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. Therefore, to stay in the Jewish religion would be meaningless.

There are numerous verses which assert this:

“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.” (1Cor. 12:13)

“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh”  (Romans 2:28)

“Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also” (Romans 3:29)

“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him” (Romans 10:12)

“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.” (1Cor. 12:13)

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11)

“As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:15-16).

In Revelation 14:1 we read about the 144,000 saints: “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” 144,000 is equal to 12 x 12 x 1,000. In Old Testament symbolism, 12 represents the 12 tribes of Israel, the Old Testament saints. In the New Testament this corresponds to the 12 apostles. The number 1,000 refers to a great quantity. In our own English language, it is commonplace to say “oh, there were thousands of them”.

This is extremely important, because there is no salvation outside of the church. This means that all men everywhere and at all times are saved by only one thing – the Gospel. Neither their consciences, nor the law, nor anything else can save them. Jesus says “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

It is not true, as some dispensationalists say that for example, the law, as embodied in the Ten Commandments was given only to the Jews, to be saved by keeping the law. It is true that the ceremonial laws were abrogated, but not the moral law. If the moral law does not pertain to New Testament believers, then this would be the same as rank antinomianism; we could steal, lie, kill as much as we want without any consequence. We should then also remove displays of the Ten Commandments from all public places. But such a thing would be sacrilege.

While it is true that the law is a guardian for us until Christ, this is true in general for all believers, both in the Old and New Testament: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:24-26).

In Galatians 2:12-15 we read about how the apostle Paul rebuked the apostle Peter for not having fellowship with the Gentiles: “For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,” In the early church we see that the Jewish believers were mixing together with the Gentile believers. This can be seen in Romans, chapter 11, which describes the Jewish nation as an olive tree into which the Gentile nations will be grafted in. Thus one nation and one church shall become many nations. This means that salvation pertains now not only to the Jews but to all of the rest of the world and the Gentiles as well. But yet we still see one olive tree, not two. There is no more distinction between Jew and Gentile, because “For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:11), God does not prefer one nation or people group to another. The Jewish people now are no more special than people from France, China, Brazil or Madagascar.


Dividing the Word of God?

The second axiom of dispensationalism is just as erroneous and heretical as the first, namely that we must properly divide the Word of God. By doing this, one would have to set up some sort of principle by which the Word of God would be partitioned into sections especially for the Jews and especially for the church. This means that one would have to devise a way to draw a line through the Scriptures which separate revelation meant for the Jews and revelation for the church.

This is sort of like what the deist Thomas Jefferson did when he literally used his penknife to cut out parts of the Bible which were not to his taste. This principle breeds a spirit of rebellion in the dispensationalist, since if he does not like what he is reading in a certain section of the Bible, he can just simply reject it and claim that it was not written to him or for him. This has gotten to such an extreme nowadays to the point that some churches declare themselves to be “New Testament” churches, whereby they rely only on the revelation found in the New Testament. We must beware the warning in Revelation 22:19: “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

According to 2Tim. 3:16-17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  Here these two verses say that all of Scripture was given to the man of God for doctrine, reproof, etc. This means that there is no dividing line which would separate the Bible into a Jewish revelation and a Christian one. Dividing the Word of God is heretical because it denies the principle of Sola Scriptura (that the Bible is the sole highest authority), and the principle derived from it, Tota Scriptura, which states that all of the Word of God is for the man of God.

Part of the misunderstanding in dispensationalist thinking is due to the fact that the Bible was written for us, and not to us. The ceremonial laws were intended for the Jews, because they symbolized the sacrifice of Christ that was to come. Even though the ceremonial laws are now abrogated because Jesus has fulfilled the law, we in New Testament times can still learn about God’s character from these laws. Indeed, for example, the Passover, celebrated by the Jews culminated in the sacrifice on Calvary (both of which happened on the same day), because Jesus was the Passover Lamb, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, slain to take away the sins of the world. Even the symbolism is the same in Exodus 12 which describes how the Jews prepared for the Passover: “And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.” (verse 7). Here the blood on the upper and the side door posts draw out the sign of a cross, on which Jesus was crucified.


How many dispensations?

Dispensationalists claim that we are now in the church age, which began with the time of Christ, and which will end at the rapture of the church. This means that the church age is only a shorter segment of human history, and practically speaking, the Gospel is not the exclusive way of salvation, and that the Gospel really is only a side-show compared to the main development of salvation history. Furthermore, dispensationalism would then be something akin to Gnosticism. This is because at the end of each dispensation, God provides a test for mankind in order to advance to the next stage of salvation history. This is nothing more than a works-based system, in that man must make progress due to his performance based on the way he fulfills certain criteria set before him by God.

It is also simply not true that the church age is only temporary. Rather I state that since the Old Testament saints are the same as the New Testament saints, the church age extends from the garden of Eden until the end of Revelation.

  • It was God’s plan to save mankind by sending His Son to die for our sins, before the beginning of time, since He foresaw Adam’s fall into sin: “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8). 1Peter 1:18-20 says “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you”. Adam, the first human being knew about God’s plan for redemption. This is hinted at in a symbol that we read about in Genesis 3:21: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” This is a verse from the Bible known as the proto-evangelium. Thus, the prophets proclaimed the coming of the Messiah who would die for the sins of His people, both from the Old and New Testament.
  • God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17:7: “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” This means that this covenant will not be abrogated until the end of all time. This covenant is the covenant of grace, since Abraham is called the father of grace (Romans 4:16). This covenant also overrides any possible dispensations which may come in between.
  • In Acts 7:37-38 we read the following: “This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:” Here Stephen mentions that the people of God who wandered in the wilderness was called the church. Dispensationalists claim that this was really the assembly, but not the church. However, the Greek word for church, or assembly in this place is εκκλεςια (ekklesia), or the ones who are “called out”. But naturally both Jews and Gentiles were “called out” from sin to be the people of God. This means that the so-called church age can thus be extended backwards in time into the Old Testament, thereby breaking all dispensationalist barriers.


The Millenium

According to Biblical symbolism, the 1,000 years symbolizes a long period of time. This means that the Millenium is not going to be literal, but figurative. The Millenium is actually happening now, since according to Revelation 1:1, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:” This, as opposed to premillennial dispensationalist thinking that the events in the book of Revelation are only going to happen in the future. This is because God’s Word pertains to all of human history; God never leaves His people without revelation.

Does this mean for example that we are ruling with Christ? Yes, it does. Ever since the mandate in the garden of Eden, we as humans are to rule over the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:26-28). All believers also have the role of prophet, priest, and king: “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1:5-6). “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1Peter 2:5) As believers we are anointed into Christ’s ministry, therefore we also rule with Him, even in the present. To rule means to preach the Gospel, bring godly laws, if we are in such a position, and also influence people into leading a godly lifestyle.



In sum we see that dispensationalism is fundamentally in error. It misinterprets the Bible, and denies Sola Scriptura, and ultimately proclaims a works-based salvation. It also contradicts the Gospel. Dispensationalism must be done away with and the churches which teach this falsehood must be Reformed.