Preface: Everyone believes in dispensations; the difference is degree. It is quite obvious that at one time, that God functioned in a close relationship with Israel, which is no longer the case. However, it should be clear that God is not working through Israel today as He did in the Old Testament. Prior to 1440 b.c., there was no Israel. The Jews of the Old Testament worshiped by sacrificing animals, a tradition which goes all the way back to the garden (this is where the animal skins came from that God gave to Adam and Eve), We no longer offer up sacrificed animals to God. I am not aware of any major Christian group which has a disagreement with what I have just said; and what I have just described is dispensational doctrine.





The Common Elements

The Five Dispensations

The Age of the Gentiles

The Jewish Age

The Church Age

The Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union:

The End Times/Restoration of the Kingdom/Millennium/ New Universe

Charts and Short Doctrines


New Testament Passages

The Doctrine of Intercalation


Dispensation Chart


Introduction: A dispensation is a period of time in which God has a specific plan for spirituality, evangelization, judgment, and the writing, preservation and dissemination of His Word. The Greek noun which is occasionally translated dispensation does not mean this exactly; although it has come to mean a specific period of time as defined by God. The Greek noun is oikonomia (οἰκονομία) [pronounced oy-koh-nohm-EE-uh]; which specifically means the administration or management of a household. The idea is, those administering God’s household here on earth change from time to time. Strong’s #3622.

The Catholic definition of a dispensation (a dispensation is an act whereby in a particular case a lawful superior grants relaxation from an existing law) has absolutely nothing to do with our study. Footnote

There is a common misunderstanding with dispensations that, everything is different from dispensation to dispensation. This is patently untrue. Every person is delivered by believing in Jesus Christ (or Jehovah Elohim), regardless of the dispensation in which he finds himself. No one was every saved by keeping the Law at any time. In fact, only Jesus kept the Law perfectly.

It will be helpful to look at several of the words used in the New Testament, and see how they are related to the concept of dispensations.


Greek Word


Theological Implications

kairos (καιρός) [pronounced kī-ROSS]; Strong’s #2540

masculine noun which means time, as a chunk or definite period of time; an epoch;

Thayer: 1) due measure; 2) a measure of time, a larger or smaller portion of time, hence: 2a) a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for; 2b) opportune or seasonable time; 2c) the right time; 2d) a limited period of time; 2e) to what time brings, the state of the times, the things and events of time

God organizes time, which is His invention, into epochs, each of which has its own distinguishing characteristics. The way we use the term dispensation today is actually more aligned with the idea of an epoch of time or a specific time period as defined by God.

mustêrion (μυστήριον) [pronounced moos-TAY-ree-on]; Strong’s #3466

neuter noun which means: 1) hidden thing, secret, mystery; 1a) generally mysteries, religious secrets, confided only to the initiated and not to ordinary mortals; 1b) a hidden or secret thing, not obvious to the understanding; 1c) a hidden purpose or counsel; 1c1) secret will; 1c1a) of men; 1c1b) of God: the secret counsels which govern God in dealing with the righteous, which are hidden from ungodly and wicked men but plain to the godly; 2) in rabbinic writings, it denotes the mystic or hidden sense; 2a) of an OT saying; 2b) of an image or form seen in a vision; 2c) of a dream

This is the mystery doctrine which belongs to a secret Greek society; and is not known to those outside of the Greek fraternity. This refers to the doctrine specifically of the Church Age, which was a mystery to the believers in the Old Testament. Dispensations would be an example of a mystery doctrine.

oikonomia (οἰκονομία) [pronounced oy-koh-nohm-EE-uh]; Strong’s #3622.

feminine noun which means: 1) the management of a household or of household affairs; 1a) specifically, the management, oversight, administration, of other’s property; 1b) the office of a manager or overseer, stewardship; 1c) administration, dispensation

The reference here is to those who function in overseeing God’s household here on earth. This word is often translated stewardship, administration, dispensation. The emphasis of this term is, who’s minding the store during this or that dispensation?

chronos (χρόνος) [pronounced CHRON.-oss]; Strong’s #5550.

masculine noun which means: time; time as a succession of events

God’s plan proceeds as He has determined in eternity past with a specific succession of events. Even though the Church Age was never mentioned the Old Testament, God determined in eternity past that the church universal would be a part of his plan, to occur at a specific time, yet hidden from Israel and the prophets.

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Charts and Short Doctrines

As with many things in the New Testament, you can read a verse here and there, see the words above, and not quite put it together. However, if you see all of the dispensational verses all together at one time, then the fact of dispensations becomes more apparent.

New Testament Passages




Acts 1:6–8

So when the apostles came together, they asked Jesus, “Lord, is this the time when you're going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus told them, “You do not need to know about times [chronological events] or epochs that the Father has determined by His Own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you. Then you will be My witnesses to testify about Me in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

At the time of their question, the Apostles were not ready to find out about the Church Age, which was about to begin. They were expecting the Millennium to begin some time in the near future (restoring the kingdom of Israel). Although their faith had increased since seeing the resurrected Christ, their knowledge had not. Most of the 11 Apostles apparently functioned as missionaries and evangelists. The 12th Apostle, Paul, would teach the mystery doctrine, which includes the concept of dispensations.

Rom. 11:25–26 (Isa. 59:20)

For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be wise within yourselves, that hardness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the [gentile] nations comes in; and so all Israel will be saved, even as it has been written, “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”

The context for this verse is the wild branches of the church being grafted in. The word mustêrion (μυστήριον) is always tied to church age doctrine.

Rom. 16:25–26

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclaiming of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.

The mystery doctrine of the Church Age was kept secret until Paul revealed it through his teaching of and epistles to the churches, which he and other Apostles had established.

1Cor. 2:7–8

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, having been hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, which none of the [religious and political] rulers of this age has known. For if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;...

Church Age doctrine had been hidden to generations of the past, although God had predetermined the Church Age from eternity past (that is, God knew all about the Church Age, however, He did not reveal this until now).

1Cor. 9:16–17

For if I proclaim the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship [or administering the affairs of a household].

Paul had specific duties and requirements to fulfill as the teacher of mystery doctrine at the beginning of the Church Age.

1Cor. 15:51–52

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

Generally speaking mystery doctrine refers to Church Age doctrine which was not known to Old Testament saints. The doctrine here is that of the rapture, unknown to Old Testament believers.

Eph. 1:7–10

In Whom we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Him to an administration of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, in Him;...

Mystery doctrine is tied here to the dispensation of the fulness of the times, which speaks of the completion of all things in Christ.

 Eph. 3:1–10

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the dispensation [or, administration] of God's grace that was given to me for you [i.e., for their benefit], how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of His power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. ...

God the Holy Spirit revealed the mystery doctrine of the Church Age to the Apostles and other teachers of divine truth—doctrine which was not known to believers in previous epochs. Part of this mystery doctrine is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs of the Jews to the promise of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, in the Church Age, gentiles and Jews will make up one body, neither one being given preference (in the Jewish Age, the spiritual functions like evangelism and the writing and preservation of the Scriptures were carried out by the nation Israel).

Eph. 5:32

This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

The context here is the union of a husband and wife; which is related to the union of Christ and the church; something which did not exist in the Age of Israel.

Eph. 6:19–20

And pray for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds; so that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Paul wrote Ephesians when in jail (in restraints, so to speak); and he prayed that he could speak the truth of the mystery doctrine, without these restraints. Paul did not realize that his epistles (letters) would have the greatest impact on world history, far more than his actual face to face teaching.

Col. 1:23–29

if indeed you continue in the faith grounded and settled and not being moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard proclaimed in all the creation under Heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister, who now rejoice in my sufferings on your behalf and fill up in my flesh the things lacking of the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the assembly, of which I became a minister, according to the administration of God given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God, the mystery having been hidden from the epochs and from the generations, but now was revealed to His saints; to whom God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, who is Christ in you, the hope of glory; whom we announce, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man full-grown in Christ Jesus, for which also I labor, struggling according to the working of Him who works in me in power.

The mystery doctrine of the Church Age was hidden from previous dispensations (epochs) and entrusted to Paul, as one of the administrators of the household of God. Part of this mystery doctrine is Christ in you, which implication places all believers into full-time Christian service.

Col. 2:1–4

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible [-sounding] arguments.

Despite the constant pressures, Paul endeavored to teach the full range of Church Age mystery doctrine.

Col. 4:3

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison.

Paul had been put in prison due to his teaching of the mystery doctrine. Just as the pharisees, scribes, priests and Sadducees persecuted Jesus Christ, they continued to persecute the Apostles.

1Thess. 5:1–4

Now concerning the times and the epochs, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.

In this epistle and in previous face to face meetings, Paul had taught eschatology doctrine to the Thessalonians (eschatology is the doctrine of future things). The Thessalonians should know all they need to about the Day of the Lord, which is the Tribulation to come, as Paul had previously taught them that doctrine in great detail.

2Thess. 2:1–12

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to Him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has [already] come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the departure comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God [this is the abomination of desolation]. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only He [= God the Holy Spirit] who now restrains it will do so until He is out of the way [when the church is removed from the earth]. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The Thessalonians thought that they might be in the tribulation (the day of the Lord), and Paul sets them straight here. First there would be the departure (or the rapture) and then the man of lawlessness is revealed, who would proclaim himself to be God and set up a seat in the Temple. Satan, who will indwell this man of lawlessness, is restrained now by God the Holy Spirit, Who will be removed with the rapture of the Church (there will be no believers left on earth).

The coming of the lawless one will be accompanied by power and false signs and wonders, which are the strong delusion sent for those who have no love of the truth.

Most English translations transliterate the word apostasia (ἀποστασία) [pronounced ahp-os-tahs-EE-ah],which means a falling away, defection, departure, forsaking, abandonment; and transliterated apostasy. Strong’s #646. The transliteration of this word as apostasy is inaccurate (some translate this a falling away, which may not be accurate either). This word is found only twice in the New Testament (Acts 21:21 2Thess. 2:3) , and it is never used in this way.

1Tim. 3:9–16

They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth. Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

The administration of the Church Age household is in the hands of the church, which would write, preserve and disseminate the truth. Mystery doctrine is tied to the manifestation of Jesus Christ, and His being taken up in glory. It had previously been assumed that the Messiah would come just one time and restore the kingdom of Israel. However, Church Age doctrine tells us that we, as members of the church, will meet Christ in the air; and 7 years later, He would return to the earth to establish His kingdom (the Millennium).

It ought to be obvious, when you see all of these passages together, that the New Testament clearly teaches dispensationalism.

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Charts and Short Doctrines

Rationale: There are several rationales for the concept of dispensations:


1.        Even the most precursory reading of portions of Scripture reveals that God has divided human history into specific epochs.

           1)        At one time, there was no nation Israel. At the time of the exodus through the time of Joshua, God formed a nation Israel from a people whom He called who had the genes of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is clear for much of the Old Testament that the God of Israel was not the same as the gods of the surrounding heathen nations, and that God clearly worked through Israel (which did involved some discipline as well). Since the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the religious authorities of Israel crucified our Lord; and, consequently, Israel was destroyed as a nation. Almost 2000 years later, Israel returned as a nation; yet during this time frame, there seems to be no clear indication that God was working through Israel or through the Jews (although it is clear that He preserved the Jews).

           2)        During the time of Adam and Eve’s fall, an animal sacrifice was necessary (recall that they went from being clothed in leaves to being covered in animal skins). Cain and Abel offered up sacrifices to God; Abel’s was acceptable, as it was the offering of an animal; Cain’s sacrifice—the result of his hard work—was not acceptable. And from that time forward, until the incarnation, animal sacrifices were offered. After our Lord died for us on the cross, animal sacrifices all but disappeared from worship (those who continued to offer up animal sacrifices were crucifying our Lord afresh, putting Him to an open shame). Heb. 9:11–28

           3)        Although there are specific men who were given the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament for specific purposes; there does not seem to ever be a universal giving of the Holy Spirit until the Day of Pentecost. The giving of the Holy Spirit began actually a progressive event that continued through a portion of the book of Acts as related to believers from the previous dispensation. However, for new converts, the giving of the Spirit became established as part and parcel of salvation (Rom. 5:5 8:9, 11, 16 1Cor. 2:11–14 3:16 6:17, 19 12:13 Gal. 3:26).

2.        I think that virtually every denomination and cult would agree to the differences previously listed; this makes them, to some degree, dispensationalists; those who believe that God has set up specific programs for specific periods of time. Some try to only see the cross as a dividing line, that the church is spiritualized Israel, and that all real differences can be attributed to living before or after the death and resurrection of our Lord. However, even though the historical narrative prior to Abraham is brief, it is clear that there were distinct differences between the administration of God’s household on earth before and after Abraham.

3.        The 11 disciples were 11 of the lamest religious leaders in the history of man. They argued about who was the best; they never asked for the Holy Spirit, although Jesus told them to do so; they ran for their lives during the crucifixion, even though Jesus had been telling them over and over again that He would be crucified; and they elected a 12th Apostle, even though there was no reason to do so. Although God used them during our Lord’s incarnation and after His death and resurrection; they simply are not the brightest bulbs in the lighting store. Now, they certainly did not understand dispensations, and they, for the most part, would become evangelists and not specifically teach the doctrine of the Church Age (the mystery doctrine). Obviously, they taught some; however, it was Paul who was entrusted primarily with the Church Age doctrine. Therefore, after our Lord had been resurrected, the 11 disciples asked him, “Will you now restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He answered, “It is not for you to know the times (succession of events) or the epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” (Acts 1:6b–7a). Jesus goes on to tell them that, what they need to be concerned with is that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and they would be witnesses for Him throughout the earth. That is, the focus of their ministries would primarily be evangelism (and evangelism will include some doctrine). Paul seemed to have a myriad of spiritual gifts, which included Apostleship, evangelization, knowledge, prophecy and teaching. So, Paul taught the mystery doctrine of the Church Age; and it is clear, that he taught the times (succession of events) and epochs to the Thessalonians believers (1Thess. 5:1–4).

4.        Paul uses the term mystery nearly 20 times to refer to doctrines which had not been taught until he came along. The Greek word is mustêrion (μυστήριον) [pronounced moos-TAY-ree-on]; and it means: mystery doctrine which belongs to a secret Greek society; and is not known to those outside of the Greek fraternity. Paul’s use of this term is for the doctrine specific to the Church Age, and which was a mystery to the believers in the Old Testament. Strong’s #3466.

5.        The Doctrine of Intercalation, where the first and second comings of our Lord are not presented in the Old Testament as separate events; so that the prophetic events of the Old Testament continually skip over the Church Age, a period of time unknown to Israel (and hence, presented as mystery doctrine by Paul to Jewish and Gentile believers alike).

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Charts and Short Doctrines

The entire Doctrine of Intercalation: (HTML) (PDF)

The Doctrine of Intercalation

1.        Intercalation means “insertion.”

2.        Theologically, this is how the word intercalation is used: the Church Age is inserted into (or, intercalated in) the Age of Israel. That is, the Age of Israel draws almost to a close, and then apart from any specific prophecy in the Old Testament, this is period of time where God runs His household with a slightly different system or using a slightly different set of rules. This is properly the definition of dispensation, which means the administration of a household.

3.        The basic dispensations are the Age of Innocence, the Age of the Gentiles, the Age of Israel, the Age of the Hypostatic Union, the Church Age, and the Millennium. Some of these dispensations are further subdivided.

4.        What was more or less expected, when Messiah came, was, Jesus would, after the cross, become King over all. However, what He did instead was, go up into heaven, send back the Holy Spirit, and begin a new period of time in human history, known as the Church Age.

5.        The Church Age, a time when God worked through gentiles, was unknown to the Jews in the Age of Israel, although there were hints of this from time to time.

6.        The Day of Pentecost began what H. A. Ironsides calls the great parenthesis. Within the Age of Israel, the Church Age is parenthetically placed. The Age of Israel has not yet come to a close; there are 7 more years of this age yet to come.

7.        Prior to the Church Age is the 1st advent of our Lord; and after the Church Age is the 2nd advent of our Lord. Except for some teaching which Jesus did with His disciples, there is no set of prophecies which tell us that the Church Age is coming.

8.        Peter speaks to this in 1Peter 1:10–12: Even the prophets, who prophesied about the spiritual blessing meant for you, made careful investigations and persistent research about this salvation, earnestly trying to find out the time, and the nature of the times, which the Spirit of the Christ within them pointed to, in foretelling the sufferings of the Christ and the glory that should follow them. It was made known to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in their searching for these things that have already been told to you by those who through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven brought you the good news. The angels long to take a peep into these things.

9.        This new dispensation and the doctrine pertaining to it is called a mystery by Paul. The word mystery refers to a private set of doctrines known to a particular group or fraternity, but are not known outside this group or fraternity. What this means is, those who were saved in previous dispensations had no idea what would come about in the Church Age; that God would work with Gentiles or that God would send the Holy Spirit to live in us (these are two specific doctrines). Rom. 16:25–26 Eph. 3:1–6 Col. 1:25–26

10.      In other words, the Old Testament speaks prophetically about the birth of our Lord and His death, then it skips over the Church Age, and picks with the Tribulation, 2nd advent and the Millennium.

11.      Throughout the Old Testament the advent of our Lord is predicted. However, the 1st and 2nd advents are not clearly distinguished, nor are they presented as separate events.

12.      Examples of Intercalation, or the “Great Parenthesis,” are found in the following passages: Psalm 22:22, 23; Isa. 61:1–2a, 2b–4; Daniel 2:40, 41; 7:23, 24; 8:22, 23; 11:35, 36; Hosea 3:4, 5; 5:15, 6:1

           1)        Isa. 61:1–4: [First advent:] The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is on Me; because Jehovah has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to preach the acceptable year of Jehovah [second advent:] and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the mantle of praise for the spirit of heaviness; so that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that He might be glorified. And they will build the old wastes, they will raise up the ruins of former times. And they will repair the waste cities, the ruins of many generations.

           2)        Hosea 3:4–5: [After Judah was returned to the land after they had been dispersed:] For the sons of Israel shall live many days with no king, and no ruler, and with no sacrifice, and no pillars, and no ephod, or teraphim. [Tribulation and Millennium:] Afterward the sons of Israel shall return and seek Jehovah their God and David their king. And they shall fear Jehovah and His goodness in the ends of the days.

           3)        Hosea 5:15–6:1: [Resurrection and ascension:] I will go; I will return to My place until they confess their guilt and seek My face; in their affliction they will seek Me diligently. [The Jews return to Jehovah in their hearts:] “Come and let us return to Jehovah. For He has torn, and He will heal us; He has stricken, and He will bind us up.”

           4)        As you can easily observe, there is nothing in between these verses about the Church Age, even though the Church Age clearly occurs between these sets of passages.

           5)        More examples can be found here: The Doctrine of Intercalation: (HTML) (PDF)

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Charts and Short Doctrines

Throughout all dispensations, there are common elements; a partial listing is found below:

The Common Elements:


1.        The 3 members of the Godhead: God the Father (Who planned human history and set the divine decrees); God the Son (the revealed member of the Trinity); and God the Holy Spirit (the empowering member of the Trinity)

2.        Salvation by faith in Jesus Christ (Jehovah Elohim of the Old Testament)

3.        There is an unseen conflict (the Angelic Conflict) of which we are a part.

4.        Man is a sinner by birth, by choice and by imputation. Adam and Eve are exceptions to this; they were sinners by choice, which apparently affected the cell structure of their bodies.

The Dispensations and where they are found in Scripture:


1.        The Age of the Gentiles (Gen. 1–11 Job)

           1)        Innocence

           2)        Pre-Deluvian

           3)        Post-Deluvian

2.        The Jewish Age (Gen. 12–most of the Old Testament)

           1)        The Patriarchs/the Jewish Race

           2)        The Nation Israel

           3)        The Tribulation

3.        The Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union (the gospels)

4.        The Church Age (the Intercalated Age) (Acts and the Epistles; Rev. 1–3)

           1)        Pre-Canon

           2)        Post-Canon

5.        The End Times/Restoration of the Kingdom (Rev. 4–22)

           1)        Millennium

           2)        The Eternal State

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Charts and Short Doctrines

The Age of the Gentiles:


          General characteristics:

                     There is one language (Gen. 11:6)

                     There is only one race

                     There is no canon of Scripture, although it is possible that the Book of Job was in existence at some time during the Age of the Gentiles. God communicated to man in dreams, visions and by direct contact. What was known about God going back to the garden was passed along verbally (although it is possible that this was written down).

                     It is possible that, man’s intelligence was such, that man could remember essentially everything that he heard. This would have made a written language unnecessary.

                     Evangelism occurred by word of mouth and by animal sacrifices (Gen. 3:21 4:3–4)

                     Salvation: is based upon a belief/trust in Jesus Christ (Jehovah Elohim of the garden)

                     Spirituality is the same as in our age; confession of sin when out of fellowship (Job 7:20)

                     Time frame: from Adam to the destruction of Babel (or to the conversion of Abraham)

                     Some of the divine institutions were attacked:

                       -          Volition was assailed in the garden (Gen. 3) and with the killing of Abel (Gen. 4:8).

                       -          Marriage was attacked with polygamy (Gen. 4:19)

                       -          The family was under assault with polygamy as well (Gen. 4:20–22)

                       -          These three divine institutions were attacked by angelic corruption of the human race (the angels which kept not their first estate) (Gen. 6:1–7)

                       -          At the time of the tower of Babel, there were no defined national entities, but mankind had become large enough to separate into nations, which God did by confusing their languages (Gen. 11).

          The Age of the Gentiles is further subdivided:

                     Innocence: From creation (or restoration) to the fall (Gen. 1:1–2:25). The lives of Adam and Eve are potentially perpetuated forever in innocence by the Tree of Life. They have direct fellowship with Jesus Christ (Jehovah Elohim) in the Garden of Eden. The first 3 divine institutions are established: the function of the soul, work and marriage.

                     Pre-Diluvian (Antediluvian): From the fall to the flood (Gen. 3:1–7:24). True humanity is corrupted by fallen angels, something which is not allowed after the flood. During this time period, the 4th divine institution, family, is established.

                     Post-Diluvian: From the flood to Abraham (Gen. 8:1–11:32). During this time, the 5th divine institution is established, which is a division of the people into individual nations.

                     Transitional Period: Babel to Abraham.

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Charts and Short Doctrines

The Jewish Age:


          General characteristics:

                     There are many languages (Gen. 11:9)

                     There are many races of people.

                     The concept of a missionary agency appears to have been established. The word Hebrew means one who crosses over the river. Abraham crossed over the Euphrates to evangelize those who spoke a different language, becoming, therefore, the first missionary. Although this is not spoken of often in the Old Testament, it is clear that God used Jonah in an even more concentrated way.

                     Evangelism took place by word of mouth and animal sacrifices, which were eventually codified by the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law also included Feast Days, which did, among other things, evangelize. The Scriptures began to be assembled and recognized as divinely inspired, and the words of God could evangelize, when read or heard.

                     Salvation is based upon faith in Jesus Christ, known in the Jewish Age as Jehovah Elohim, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 15:6 Rom. 4:3 Gal. 2:16)

                     The spiritual life was based upon remaining in fellowship with God as well as them employment of the faith-rest technique. Although confession of sin to God would get one back into fellowship, the importance of confession of sin (Num. 21:7 Judges 10:10 Psalm 41:4 51:4 Jer. 14:20 Dan. 9:8) was codified by a sacrifice in Lev. 5:14–19. The faith-rest life is explained in Rom. 4:17–22 Heb. 11.

                     Only a small percentage of believers had the Holy Spirit, which was given primarily for specific functions.

                     There are 4 unconditional covenants given in the Age of Israel: God made promises to the line of Abraham and to Israel in the Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic and New Covenants to Israel. Each covenant contained an eternal life clause.

                     There was specific judgement for Israel. God chastened Israel for disobedience and for their failure to function as a missionary agency. These judgments are called 5 cycles of discipline, and found in Lev. 26.

                     The duration of the Jewish Age: from Abraham to the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. However, the Jewish Age is interrupted by the Age of the Hypostatic Union as well as the insertion of the Church Age, which is resumed when the Church is taken out of the way.

          The Age of the Gentiles is further subdivided:

                     The Patriarchs/the Jewish Race: From Abraham to the separation from Egypt and entering into the Land of Promise (Gen. 12:1–Deut. 34:12). God works through the patriarchs and communicates with the patriarchs. There are great signs and wonders to mark the separation of the Jews from the Egyptians.

                     The Nation Israel: From entry into the land to the first advent (Joshua–Malachi; the gospels). God works through the nation Israel; however, Israel becomes very degenerate from time to time. Northern Israel is occupied and expelled from the land. Southern Israel (Judah) is occupied and expelled from the land. Judah does return. However, apostasy and degeneracy continues, even to the point of the religious hierarchy demanding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

                     The Jewish Age is suddenly interrupted by the public ministry of Jesus Christ. The nation Israel is destroyed in a.d. 70. There are 7 years remaining in the Jewish Age, which will occur at the end of the Church Age.

                     Transitional Period (from the interruption of the Jewish Age to the Church Age): the public ministry of Jesus Christ, His crucifixion and His resurrection from the dead. After His resurrection, our Lord appears to the Apostles and the 500. He ascends into heaven, and the disciples are told to wait for the Holy Spirit to be given. Although, generally speaking, there is little information on the Church Age to be find during the Age of Israel; our Lord did reveal a great many Church Age truths during the Upper Room Discourse (John 13–17). Many see this period of time as a separate dispensation, acting as a transition between the Age of Israel and the Church Age.

                     The Tribulation is the final 7 years of the Age of Israel, which will begin after the rapture: it occurs between the removal of the church and the Judgment Seat of Christ, and completes the Jewish age with a shortened 7 years (probably 7 years of 360 days). The nation Israel is again in the forefront, and God works through nation Israel, and through Jews who are scattered throughout the world (the 144,000 Jewish evangelists). Although several prophets in the Age of Israel spoke of the Tribulation, it is primarily revealed throughout most of the book of Revelation. Now, I believe that spiritually during this period of time will be similar to the Church Age, insofar as believers being indwelt and filled with God the Holy Spirit. Somehow, given the short period of time that we are dealing with, spiritual growth may be accelerated. That could be a result of believers realizing that they are in the Tribulation and that time is limited.

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Charts and Short Doctrines

The Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union:


          General characteristics: Footnote

                     Jesus functions as under the Law of Moses. He keeps the Law perfectly.

                     Jesus is empowered not by His Own Deity, but by the power of God the Holy Spirit, exactly as Church Age believers are.

                     So, on the one hand, Jesus fulfills the Law, but He also executes the Christian way of life.

                     The Jews are still God’s people, and Jesus and His disciples go first to the Jews, but salvation is not withheld from non-Jews (which is true throughout the Age of Israel). Matt. 10:6–7 15:22–28 Luke 7:6–10

                     Jesus makes the Holy Spirit available to His disciples, but His disciples never take Him up on this offer. Luke 11:13

                     What Jesus does not do is offer up any animal sacrifices, because He is the Lamb of God to be sacrificed. His appearance ends the need for the animal sacrifices (much like the appearance of David overshadowed the function of the 2 High Priests in the Old Testament).

                     The priests and the scribes are no longer men who proclaim the Word of God; they have become legalistic religious types, opposing Jesus at every turn. Matt. 9:34 12:14–23 16:1 19:3 22:15 26:3–4

                     Believers at that time were under the Law,; however, Jesus’ disciples could have been strengthened in the Holy Spirit (however, it was probably not the indwelling of the Spirit as we have, but an anointing or an empowering of the Spirit, something which could be lost). This is somewhat of a moot point, as it is unclear whether the disciples had much spiritual impact when Jesus was here on earth (there were exceptions to this; e.g. Peter identifying Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God—Matt. 16:16).

                     Our Lord establishes His authority with signs and wonders and with accurate teaching of the Mosaic Law, which had become distorted. From time to time, we read our Lord’s words, “You have heard it said....” and then He would name some true doctrine or some tradition. Jesus would either then clarify the true doctrine or He would explain the inaccuracy of the tradition. Although these traditions came out of the Mosaic Law, they were not taught by Moses or the prophets, but these are distortions of the Mosaic Law which became the traditional teaching of Judaism.

          The Age of the Hypostatic Union is further subdivided:

                     Our Lord in His youth, where He certainly interacted with the theologians of His day (only one example of this is found in the gospels when he is age 12 and found discussing Bible doctrine in the Temple).

                     The 3–4 year public ministry of Jesus Christ. This is quite phenomenal from a standpoint of time and place. Religious icons required a great deal of time (decades) and a fairly large area wherein they taught. Jesus taught in a very small geographical area for a very short period of time. That anyone with a 3-year ministry should be remembered at all is, in itself, quite remarkable.

                     The crucifixion of our Lord, where He took upon Himself the penalty which we deserve for our sins.

                     His resurrection. Jesus spent time on this earth, with His disciples, and allowing Himself to be seen by at least 500 other people. This changed the resolve of the disciples, most of whom scattered like frightened dogs when He was taken by the religious authorities.

                     There is a 10 day transitional period, after which our Lord is taken up and the Holy Spirit is sent to begin the Church Age.

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Charts and Short Doctrines

The Church Age:


          General characteristics:

                     Positional truth: every believer, at the moment of salvation, is placed into union with Christ, by means of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. At first, this was accomplished in stages in the early church, when it was made clear by signs and wonders that Jews, Old Testament Saints, half-Jews and Gentiles were all brought into the body of Christ. The reason for this was, a relationship with Jehovah Elohim had been incorrectly seen as a result of being born into the Jewish race. God did work through the nation Israel specifically; however anyone could be saved during any dispensation. More importantly, God would begin to work through a new organization known as the church.

                     There is the universal indwelling of Jesus Christ: every believer is indwelt by Jesus Christ, as prophesied in John 14:20.

                     There is also the universal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was given to specific individuals for specific purposes (Ex. 35:30–34) and the Holy Spirit could be withdrawn (Psalm 51:11). However, all believers in the Church Age are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit.

                     All believers are indwelt by God the Father.

                     There was a specialized priesthood during the Age of Israel; however, all believers are priests in the Church Age. This is known as the universal priesthood of the believer. This means that all believers may represent themselves directly to God, without an intermediary (intermediaries in the Old Testament were all shadows of Jesus Christ to come). Since Christ has come and died for our sins, no one stands between God and us. The life of any believer and every believer has meaning and definition. 1Pter 2:5, 9

                     By a.d. 95–100, we have the completed Canon of Scripture: so that, all direct communication from God to man was contained in written form. Dreams, visions, trances and voices were no longer bona fide revelations in the Church Age. At best, these are delusions and/or hallucinations; at worst, these are demon influences or possession.

                     We have a supernatural way of life in the Church Age. When we are in fellowship, as a result of confession of sin, we are also filled by God the Holy Spirit. Believers, at any stage of growth, can be filled with God the Holy Spirit.

                     Salvation is in the Church Age by faith in Jesus Christ, a constant in all dispensations.

                     Spirituality is the filling of the Holy Spirit, augmented by spiritual growth.

                     Personal impact and the distribution of spiritual gifts: all believers have one or more spiritual gifts; all believers have equal privilege and equal opportunity; all believers can have impact for Jesus Christ.

                     The Church Age is marked by wisdom rather than by signs; and historical trends rather than prophetical teaching (although there is definitely prophetical teaching given in the Church Age about the remaining portion of the Jewish Age still to be concluded).

          It is the characteristics above, as well as the function of the church and as well as Gentiles taking part in the administration of God’s household, that form the mystery doctrine, taught primarily by Paul.

          The Church Age can be further subdivided into two periods:

                     The Pre-Canon Period: Signs and wonders establish the authority of the Apostles, who would then evangelize and begin to teach Church Age doctrine. The Baptism of the Spirit is an experience as well as a position (being placed into Christ) as it is done to Jewish believers, Old Testament believers, Samaritan believers, and finally to Gentile believers.

                     The Post-Canon Period: The flashy gifts fade, healings decrease dramatically during the pre-canon era, after the authority of the Apostles has been established and once epistles begin to be written and distributed. The baptism of the Spirit becomes a position only, and true of all believers at the moment of salvation.

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Charts and Short Doctrines

The End Times/Restoration of the Kingdom/Millennium:


          General characteristics:

                     Israel will be restored. God will regather all Israel and give to them all of the land which He promised them, which is far more than they ever possessed previously. Gen. 15:18 Isa. 35:3–10 Ezek. 20:34

                     Although Jesus Christ will rule over the entire earth, there will still be nations. However, the government of Jesus Christ will be perfect. Psalm 72 Isa. 11:1–5 Zech. 14:9

                     Man will be released from his bondage of sin. Rom. 8:19–22

                       -          As an aside, I am not certain if all men will be free of the sin nature. If there is a requirement for justice, that means there must be crime; if there is crime, that would be going against God’s laws. That would imply the acquisition of a sin nature. If there is a requirement for rulership, that seems to imply crime and social disruption, even if it is minor. See Psalm 72:2

                     There will be universal peace. For the first time since the fall of man, the world will be free of war. This will include a state of peace for Israel and Judah, which area has been a hotspot of war for centuries. Psalm 46:9 Isa. 2:4 Jer. 23:6 33:16 Hosea 2:18 Micah 4:3–4

                     There will be virtually no crime. Isa. 32:18 60:18

                     There will be perfect environment. There will be a great restoration of the earth where deserts will become prosperous fields and fields will become forests. Isa. 11:2–5, 10 32:15 35:1–2, 7 44:3

                     The ferocity of animals will end. Isa. 11:6–9 65:25 Ezek. 34:25 Hosea 2:18

                     There will be no religion on the earth because the father of all religion will be imprisoned for 1000 years in the Lake of Fire. Isa. 30:35 John 8:44 Rev. 20:1–3

                     This will be a time of great spirituality: believers will be filled with God the Holy Spirit and ecstatics (an emotional response to being filled with the Spirit) will be legitimate during this period of time Isa. 35:10 Joel 2:28–29

                     There will be great prosperity during the Millennium Psalm 72:7, 16 Isa. 30:23 32:15 60:17

                     There will exist a universal knowledge of God. Psalm 22:27 Isa. 11:9 59:19 Habak. 2:14

                     The Millennium, like the two civilizations before it (the creation of man; survivors of the flood), will begin with believers only; the unbelievers having been removed by the baptism of fire. Mal. 3:2–5 4:1–2 Ezek. 20:37–38 Matt. 25:31–46

                     Man’s life span will be extended. Isa. 65:20

                     Justice will be immediate, which will include capital punishment. Psalm 72:2–9 Isa. 11:3–5

                     Salvation is by faith in Christ. Old Testament sacrifices will be reinstituted as a memorial to His death on the cross. Ezek. 40:38-43 and 43:18-27.

          The End Times can be subdivided into the following categories (some of which may be seen as a separate dispensation or as a state outside of the realm of dispensations):

                     Second Advent of Jesus Christ: Our Lord returns to the earth and ends the Great Tribulation. Matt. 16:27 24:27, 36–39 Mark 13:26–27 Luke 21:25–28 1Thess. 4:15–5:4

                     The Baptism of Fire: Jesus Christ separates the sheep from the goats (believers from unbelievers) and casts the unbelievers off the earth. Believers from the tribulation go into the Millennium. Matt. 3:11 24:36–41 25:31–46 (the passage where one shall be taken from the field and one shall be left refers to the baptism of fire and not to the rapture of the church).

                     The Great Rewards Ceremony: Jesus will reward those who have been faithful in their service to Him. Matt. 16:27 Rev. 22:12

                     The Millennium: Jesus Christ will be King over all the earth for a 1000 years. There will be perfect environment and men will still reject Jesus Christ as Savior.

                     The Gog and Magog Revolution: At the end of the Millennium, Satan will be released for a short time and he will lead the Gog Magog revolution against Jesus Christ and perfect environment. Rev. 20:7–10

                     The Final Judgment: There will be a final judgment of all unbelievers, living and dead, after Satan is released at the Great White Throne judgment. Rev. 20:11–15

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Charts and Short Doctrines

The New Universe (the Eternal State):


          General characteristics:

                     God will create a new heavens and a new earth.

                     The old universe will be destroyed (2Peter 3:7–13) and God will create a new heavens and a new earth, which will begin the eternal state (Isa. 65:17 66:22 2Peter 3:13). This might be seen as a separate dispensation or as a part of Eternity Future.

                     This is eternity future or the eternal state. We do not know very much about this.

What follows is a simple chart of these dispensations, where the Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union is both the center of human history and a hinge, so to speak, between the Church Age and the Age of Israel.

Eternity Past

Creation of the Earth (Gen. 1:1)

Restoration of the Earth (Gen. 1:2ff)


Adam to Abraham

Abraham to the birth of Jesus Christ

The Life of Jesus

Pentecost to Rapture

Rapture to 2nd Advent

Satan Bound to Satan Loosed and the Great White Throne

Eternity Future

Omega (Rev. 1:8 22:13)

The Eternal State (Rev. 21–22)


God communicates by dreams, visions and directly

God communicates by dreams, visions, directly; and to Israel through prophets, priests and kings (Heb. 1:1)

God communicates to us through Jesus Christ, His Son (Heb. 1:2)

God communicates by Apostles at first, and then through His Word

God communicates through His Word; possibly through the 144,000

Divine knowledge and viewpoint is available to all

Individual Evangelism

Israel is a Nation of Divine Truth (uncertain of nations far outside Israel)

The world was evangelized by Jesus and His disciples

Missionary Activity by Client Nations to God

Evangelism by the 144,000 Jews

The Knowledge of God is Universal

Family Priesthood

(Gen. 13:3–4 Job 1:5)

Aaronic Priesthood

(Leviticus Heb. 7:5)

The High Priest, Jesus Christ (Heb. 7:26 8:1 9:11)

Universal Priesthood

(1Peter 2:5, 9)

Universal Priesthood?

Universal Priesthood?

Age of the Gentiles

The Jewish Age

The Hypostatic Union

(The Church Age)

(the Intercalated Age)

The Great Tribulation

(conclusion of the Jewish Age)

The Millennium

Volition, Marriage (Fall of Adam)

Family (Corruption of the Human Race)

Nation (Tower of Babel)

From Abraham to Egypt

From Moses to Christ

The Life of Jesus on this earth

Pentecost and 11 Apostles

The Apostle Paul to the Present

1st Half

2nd Half

Satan is bound; Jesus directly rules over the earth; perfect environment





Nation Israel

Only one era



The setting up of the abomination of desolation demarcates midst of Tribulation

When Satan is loosed, he will lead part of the world in rebellion against God

Gen. 1:26-3:6

Gen. 3:7-6:22

Gen. 7:1-11:32

Gen. 12–50

Exodus. to Malachi

The Gospels

Acts 1–12

Acts 13-Rev. 4 Epistles

1Thess. 4:13–18 Dan. 12:1 Jer. 30:4–7 Rev. 6–18

Matt. 24–25 1Thess. 3:13 2Thess. 7–2:12 Rev. 19–20

Possibly 2000–3000 years

From return from Captivity to our Lord: 490–7 = 483 years (perhaps 1500 years before that?)

30–35 years

Parenthetical time period, not found in prophecy, introduced when our Lord was rejected at the cross

7 abbreviated years (possibly 360 day years)

A literal 1000 years

Miracles and Dispensations: One of the great dividing lines in Christianity is miracles. There are naturalists (if I may so use this term) who see the miracles of the Bible as all natural phenonmena or as metaphors for the power and character of God. There are some, like myself, who believe that there are some miracles in Scripture (John 2:1–11); there are some incredible events which probably have very natural explanations (many of the plagues of Egypt, Jesus rubbing mud in the eyes of a blind man so that he sees) and there is at least one incredible event which is in dispute (Joshua’s long day). There are some who think God is doing miracles constantly, and that every Sunday in church is going to be filled with powerful miracles to bolster up the faith of those weak in faith, and to convict the unbelievers who have wandered in off the street. Of course, people are going to hold to positions everywhere between. I recall talking to one charismatic who told me that her God is a Big God (something which she had obviously culled from one of the sermons she heard), the implication being, her God was able to do great miracles and did so often; and that my God was not quite as good at such things, probably because I am small in faith. We need to take a balanced approach to this—examine the Scriptures—to see that the God of the Bible is not a God whose miracles are the result of over-enthusiastic authors, eager to convince their readers of the power of Jehovah God; nor are we dealing with a God who is in the business of constantly creating miracles, thousands, if not millions a day, primarily during the Sunday services in the many charismatic churches which dot the countryside. In examining these miracles, keep the concept of dispensations in the back of your mind; they are related (however, do not suppose that there is a dispensation of miracles and a dispensation of the laws of physics).

Introductory Points:


1.        Even if we want to take the position that miracles can all be explained via natural phenomena, one cannot read the Bible without recognizing that in certain periods of time, there are a great many events which need a lot of explaining.

2.        Even if we take the position that our God is a Big God of many miracles, one cannot but note the paltry number of miracles over the 500 year period of time during which Jews were in Egypt and then taken out of the land of Egypt. Now, certainly, there seemed to be great acts of God before Pharaoh (11 or 12, including the parting of the Sea of Reeds, over the period of a few weeks); and there were a dozen or so great acts of God over the period of a few years, as Moses led the Jews in the desert toward the Land of Promise.

3.        Elijah did a few things which were pretty amazing; primarily, when he showed the power of Jehovah God as versus the power of the heathen god (1Kings 18:20–46); however, even with his great prophesies, these seem small compared to the events during the life of Moses (which are relatively few, if one looks at them in the context of the previous 400 years of slavery).

4.        When we seem to read about great miracles again, is when our Lord walks on this earth, beginning with the most misunderstood miracle of all time, the water being turned into wine at Canaan. I’m not sure if even a handful of theologians have ever explained this, except that, it was time for Jesus to do something miraculous, he just happened to be at a wedding, they were out of wine, so He thinks, “Hell, I’ll just change water into wine and start My ministry.” I don’t mean to be irreverent, for, for all intents and purposes, that is how most theologians view this miracle, which was the first great miracle of His ministry (John 2:11). By the way, this is one reason for a pastor teacher; what immature believer opens his Bible and begins reading the book of John (which is an excellent place to start) and has any clue as to the meaning of this miracle?

5.        In the book of Acts, beginning with the Day of Pentecost, and proceding most of the way through the book of Acts, we also observe a great many miracles, although nothing like we observed in the 3–4 year earthly ministry of our Lord (even though Jesus said, “And even greater things will you do” speaking to His disciples).

6.        My point is, you cannot simply ignore the miracles in Scripture nor can you naturalize them all; whereas, I personally believe that you can naturalize much of what happened at the hands of Moses; and a few things which Jesus did; still there were just too many incredible acts with no implied natural explanation of them which Jesus did. Furthermore, the speaking of foreign languages by the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost just has no reasonable natural explanation either. So, if you are going to accept the Bible as the Word of God, then you must acknowledge that there are a number of incredible acts of power, some of which appear to be clearly miraculous (i.e., they fall outside the laws of science).

What is the problem with the Charismatic View?


7.        “Our God is Big God, and He creates miracles constantly. This is done to show the power of the gospel, the power of the person at whose hand God does miracles, and the power of God. These miracles also bolster the faith of the faith of those weak in faith. The Bible is filled with miracles—from cover to cover. Furthermore, I have experienced such miracles and have seen these miracles of tongues and healings with my own eyes.” I trust that this summarizes the position of the charismatic (if you are a charismatic and you think I got this wrong, please enlighten me).

8.        Let’s deal with these points that a charismatic would hold to. First of all, the Bible is a book of miracles from cover to cover. Not true. One could reasonable say that the Bible is a book of prophecy, because there are a great many things presented prophetically in Scripture. This is not miraculous, but simply demonstrates the foreknowledge/omniscience of God. We have some grasp of this in our everyday life. I was a teacher for nearly 30 years, and I would learn the behavior of certain students, and I knew when I did this or that, I would elicit specific behavior from specific students. I knew this in advance; some things (e.g., some jokes) I knew that I could not do, as some groups of students would be unable to handle a joke and then get back on task soon thereafter. In some classes, I could pepper my lecture with humor, and never miss a beat. They would stay with me the entire time, and the class would not degenerate into adolescent chaos. Was this a miracle that I could predict their behavior? Not really; I simply knew them well enough to figure out what they would do. If you have a 3 or 4 year old son, you can put that little boy into certain circumstances, and you know what he is going to do. Little Bobby might see a puppy and go over and love on that puppy and want to bring it home. Little Jason might see the same puppy, and go over, and start to love this puppy; and then start trying to pull its ears off to see what will happen. Knowing your son or daughter well enough as they move toward their teen years gives you an idea as to how much freedom you can give them and when you need to tighten the reigns. But I digress—but back to the topic of miracles; the Bible is not a book of cover-to-cover miracles:

           1)        There is no indication whatsoever that the 400 years of slavery endured by the Jews was peppered with miracles.

           2)        There is no indication that the 400 years between the Old and New Testaments is filled with miracles.

           3)        Over the period of a few weeks, about a dozen miracles, or great acts, were done before Pharaoh; and in the following 1.5 years, another dozen were done before the children of Israel; which miracles seemed to come to a screeching halt for about 38.5 years, where the Jews may little or no progress in moving toward the Land of Promise.

           4)        Although some great acts occurred during the time of Joshua and the Judges; we might be able to gather up maybe a dozen great acts during this time period (400 years) which could qualify as great acts of God. However, mostly what we have in these two books is a lot of war, and God often intervening to deliver Israel in battle. In all of these two books, only one real miracle stands out, and that is the miracle of Joshua’s long day. After carefully exegeting that passage myself, I cannot honestly confirm or deny that there was the incredible miracle of physics which took place. I am not saying that it cannot be done; I am not saying that God cannot suspend the laws of physics in a way that would simply blow away the scientists of this age; I am just saying, based upon the Hebrew, it is unclear as to what really happened.

           5)        Now, what I cannot dispute in any way, are the great miracles and great acts of power of Jesus. John told us that the world itself could not hold all of the books necessary to record the details of of what Jesus did (John 21:25—this is, by the way, known as hyperbole). Furthermore, Jesus told His disciples that they would do even greater works than they have observed Him do (John 12:14).

           6)        Interestingly enough, even though there are some miraculous occurrences in the book of Acts, there are nowhere near as many to be found there than in the gospels. What about John 12:14?

           7)        Interestingly enough, where we find even fewer miracles mentioned is in the epistles.

           8)        Now, compare this to the typical charismatic service (and, these run the gamut here) where there are enough observable miracles to convince the unbelievers there and to bolster up the confidence of the believers who are there. On a typical Sunday morning service, in any given major city, we expect that there will be enough miracles performed by God in the various charismatic churches to far outnumber all of the miracles recorded in Scripture (even if there is just an average of 3 or 4 miracles per church).

           9)        Also, bear in mind, there are unbelievers out there who offer money to anyone who can demonstrate a completely verifiable healing through a miracle.

           10)      Contrast this to, the lack of literature from the 1st century which dispute the miracles of Jesus or His disciples.

           11)      If you are going to be objective here, you must admit that there is a problem with the view that, God is performing an incredible number of miracles each and every day.

9.        There is the charismatic concept that the miracles observable in their churches convict the unbelievers who attend; and that this fulfills Jesus telling His disciples that even greater works would they perform.

           1)        Here is the basic problem: Jesus wandered throughout all Israel (a fairly small geographical area, to be sure) and performed a large number of miracles before large audiences. Some of these miracles did alleviate suffering; but several of them seemed to have a different purpose (such as the two miracles of the loaves and the fishes; the miracle of turning water into wine).

           2)        We find no such similar ministry today. We do not have a famous charismatic walking through a hospital, curing person after person, and then leading the patient and all of his friends and relatives to Jesus Christ.

           3)        The “cures” which are allowed some medical scrutiny seem to come up wanting; without a medical consensus that any sort of a miracle took place.

           4)        Even though there are many who claim to be healers (Christian and non-Christian alike), they tend to heal in a very controlled environment. That is, it is on their turf, in their church or in their city or on their stage; and very often, there is money which changes hands in one way or another (whether it is through gifts from the sick or an offering taken from those who are there). What is rare is, any healer who is willing to allow himself to be objectively observed or for his patients to be examined before and after they are healed by licensed physicians. What greater testimony to God’s great power than to allow this to occur? What greater testimony than for these healings to be done where no money changes hands? Even if only 1 out of 10 healings can be certified as a true miracle, would not that be a great testimony to the power and grace of God?

           5)        The obvious problem is, the miracles of healing performed by healers of any group are tied to monetary support, unverifiable, and very unconvincing to the skeptical unbeliever.

10.      The healings and miracles that can be observed at any charismatic church bolsters the faith of those weak in faith.

           1)        I’ve known a lot of charismatic in my life, some of whom I respect and love dearly; and many of whom strike me as being singularly arrogant. For instance, when it comes to stacking up their experiences against what the Bible says, they are going to believe their experiences, and make the Bible conform to their experiences.

           2)        As a result, we have dozens (if not hundreds) of charismatic leaders who visit heaven periodically. We have some who have splash fights with Jesus in the River Jordan in heaven; we have Jesus hunkering down next to some, to watch a few episodes of “Lavern and Shirley.” You might think I am making this crap up, but I’m not. It would be difficult to come up with all fo the weirdness which pervades the charismatic movement. There are some charismatics and churches which are reserved and reasonable; but there is a powerful fringe element whose experiences are the stuff of comic books.

           3)        What I do not find among these charismatics which I know is a faith which is stronger than the faith of Noncharismatics which I know. In fact, there are many that I know, who have never experienced any sort of a miracle, who have an extremely solid foundation in the faith.

           4)        What does the Bible say about those whose faith is made strong by the observation of signs and wonders? Let’s look at the exodus generation 1; they observed God’s great signs to Pharaoh first-hand. When being led through the desert, they observed another set of great signs. We could reasonably say that they saw more great feats of power than any generation of men before or since (at least, until the time of Jesus Christ). What was the result? They were so faithless that God killed off this entire generation before entering into the Land of Promise.

           5)        How about the Apostles of Jesus? They observed firsthand sign after sign; wonder after wonder; and what was their response when Jesus went to the cross? One never believed in Him. 9 immediately scattered when Jesus was apprehending; Peter eventually scattered after denying Jesus; and only John, of the 12 Apostles, had any clue that Jesus being taken was a part of His plan, even though He told them again and again that it would happen.

11.      What about the idea that signs and wonders continue unabated from the time of the Apostles until now?

           1)        James, who wrote one of the earliest epistles, explained what to do when some member of a congregation was found to be sick. “Bring in the men who are perform signs and miracles from you congregation—those who can heal—and bring the sick up in front of the church, and let them be healed.” Well, James actually does not say that. He writes: Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5:14–15). Notice that those who are leaders in the church pray over him. The sort of healing which we observed during the ministry of our Lord does not appear to be in play in the churches.

           2)        Maybe James was writing to churches bereft of healing gifts? How about Paul? Paul was able to heal, right? But we read in 2Tim. 4:20: Erastus has remained at Corinth; Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. This was late in Paul’s ministry, and Paul did not heal Trophimus.

           3)        Speaking of Timothy, overseeing a church had become a difficult thing for Timothy and it had upset his stomach and apparently affected his digestion. So, Paul went out and healed him. No, he did not. Paul did, of course, tell Timothy to bring the healer or healers in his church to his church office and heal him there. No, he did not. Paul recommended that Timothy drink a little wine for his stomach’s sake (1Tim. 5:23). I have heard the standard arguments why God does not heal everyone, even though God is still in the business of healing through men with that sign gift. Think about those arguments, and then realize, Paul is giving Timothy some medical advice here, with the expected end result to be that Timothy’s stomach pain is quelled. Why is God willing to work through a medicinal approach (wine), yet unwilling to work a miracle on Timothy, which would increase the faith of all those in the church? If healing gifts are the order of the day, why is Paul’s faith in a medicinal approach here, as opposed to great work of God approach?

           4)        And just so that we do not miss it, God the Holy Spirit once more includes a sick person in the epistles of Paul, so that we know that the great Apostle Paul was unable to heal this person: But I considered it necessary to send you Epaphroditus—my brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier, as well as your messenger and minister to my need—since he has been longing for all of you and was distressed because you heard that he was sick. Indeed, he was so sick that he nearly died. However, God had mercy on him, and not only on him but also on me, so that I would not have one grief on top of another (Philip. 2:25–27). Not a word is said about anyone with the gift of healing being involved here. If Paul is going to mention miscellaneous sick people, why does he not also mentioned those in the church who heal? Aren’t there sick people in the congregations that Paul writes to? Doesn’t he want people to know that they can have their pain and illnesses taken away?

           5)        Even during the time when tongues was still a legitimate gift, the gift of healing seems to have been phrased out: This is why many are sick and ill among you, and many have fallen asleep (1Cor. 11:30).

12.      The chronological progression of Scripture:

           1)        Although we find a few instances of healings in the Old Testament, it is a rare thing. I can only recall two instances off the top of my head: the widow’s boy who Elijah brought back from the dead; and Hezekiah, whom God healed and allowed to live for another dozen or so years.

           2)        What we find is, in the gospels, there are dozens of passages where illnesses are mentioned and men and women are healed, without any instances of Jesus saying, “Sorry, dude; you just don’t have enough faith.” If you are thinking of Matt. 17:21, think again; it is unlikely that this verse belongs in the Scriptures. However, that general passage is an instance where the disciples were unable to heal someone. That appears to be a failing of their faith, rather than of the person who required the healing.

           3)        In the book of Acts, we have a grand total of two instances where the sick are healed (Acts 5:15–16 19:12) and one instance where they were not (Acts 9:37). If physical healings were to be an important part of the early church, it is amazing how few times this is mentioned (Luke mentions healing the sick 5 times in his gospel, which covers a time period of approximately 3–4 years; and mentions 2 healings in the book of Acts, which covers a time period which is more than 30 years). In other words, if miraculous healings are supposed to be an important part of the ministry of the church, why didn’t God the Holy Spirit make this clear to Luke the physician?

           4)        Finally, in the letters to the churches, the only time illness is mentioned, it is an illness which was not cured or an illness where the church is urged to pray for the sick person.

           5)        We are told to rightly divide the truth; so, if it is clear that signs and wonders and healings are abundant during the ministry of Jesus Christ, and that such things occurred, but with much less frequency in the early church, and that such things are not even mentioned in the epistles, then maybe God phased healings out? Maybe God phased the sign gifts out? Maybe God stopped doing an abundance of wonders and miracles? When you take this in conjunction with everything which we have studied so far, does it not make a great deal of sense?

13.      The purpose of signs, wonders and healings:

           1)        Healings are not done solely for the purpose of alleviating suffering. Jesus could have waved His hands (or, even less), and He could have healed the world of all diseases and of all demon possessions for as long as He chose to. I believe that many of the healings which Jesus did were miraculous healings. For instance, when you have a lame man who not only gets up and walks, but jumps around, that is a miracle, simply because he would have suffered atrophied muscles in his legs over this debilitating illness. There are other instances where there may have actually been some medicine involved (Jesus rubbing salve into the eyes of a blind man). But Jesus did not heal every single person in the world; but He did seem to heal every single person who came to Him. Those who were sick, diseased, and especially those infirm from birth could come to Him and be made whole. Do you see what we are being told here? We go to Jesus, even though we are sinners at birth and by birth, and He will make us whole.

           2)        Healings are done to establish our Lord’s authority and person. Even John the baptizer and his disciples were a little confused by what Jesus did and did not do (remember the Doctrine of Intercalation? Those who knew Scripture expected that Messiah would return and deliver the nation Israel). How did Jesus respond to John’s disciples? Did He berate them? No, He said this, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news. And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed.” (Matt. 11:4b–13). His signs were proof of who He was.

           3)        When the Holy Spirit was sent, and the Church Age began, the sign of the disciples speaking in foreign languages which they had not learned made a great impact on those who had gathered on the Day of Pentecost.

           4)        And the great Apostle, Paul himself, was a persecutor of the church of God; therefore, part of what established his authority were the signs and wonders which he could perform in his early and middle ministry (Acts 19:12), but apparently not in his later ministry (Philip. 2:25–27 1Tim. 5:23 2Tim. 4:20).

14.      Signs, wonders and miracles as related to dispensational theology:

           1)        The general idea is this: signs, wonders and miracles establish the authority of an individual or group; and/or signal that a great change is about to take place. There are three examples of this:

           2)        The great flood, whether natural or supernatural, was a great sign which ended the pre-deluvian civilization and began the post-deluvian civilization. As is the case with the beginning of any civilization, the earth begins with believers only (the angels in eternity past; Adam and the Woman; Noah and his family; the beginning of the Millennium). One of the great changes is, it appears as though the angels could cohabit with mankind prior to the flood; and that no longer occurred after the flood (although demon possession and demon influence appear to be allowed after the flood).

           3)        The next great sign was, God promised Abram that he would sire a son through Sarai; and this marked the beginning of the Jewish race. Abraham believed God and this was considered righteousness to him (Gen.  15:6 Gal. 3:6).

           4)        Then we have a whole group of signs—Moses demands that the Pharaoh let God’s people go, and God does sign after sign at the hand of Moses. Whether these great works had a naturalistic explanation or not could be debated; but that these were great works of God cannot be debated. God was taking a nation of slaves out of Egypt and was going to plant them in the Land of Promise, a land He would give to them. What happened here was known throughout the ancient world, and was legend for hundreds of years. What God did in Egypt on behalf of Israel was a testimony to the power of God, and to the fact that He is the God of the universe, and not simply some local deity.

           5)        The great signs done at the hand of Elijah were nothing compared to the exodus; however, he is the first of a long line of prophets through whom God spoke. Now, God had spoken through some prophets previously (Samuel, Nathan, etc.), but their authority had been recognized by those to whom they ministered (Israel, David). However, with Elijah, there will be a host of prophets to follow who will write prophecy which will become a part of the Word of God. About a third of the Word of God was written by prophets who followed in the tradition of Elijah.

           6)        The next period of time of great signs and wonders was the incarnation of our Lord. When He entered into His public ministry, we read of hundreds of signs, healings, great works and wonders. This confirmed that Jesus was who He claimed to be. “Today you see this Scripture [which testified as to the coming of the Messiah] fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21). If there ever was to be a time when there would be great signs and wonders, this would be it.

           7)        The final great wave of signs and wonders occurred at the beginning of the Church Age, when God no longer worked through the nation Israel, but through a new body of believers, unknown to people in the past. It is also clear that Paul was capable of some signs and miracles, particularly at the beginning of his ministry.

           8)        You will note that, often, when there is a wave of signs and wonders, there is a passing of the torch and/or the beginning of a new age (or the beginning of a significant segment of a new age).





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