Dispensationalism confusion: People Don’t Understand Dispensationalism WHY?!
Dispensationalism or rightly dividing scripture to the correct people and time period is crucial in understanding and correctly interpreting the Bible. Christians often confuse themselves when they take verses that contradict Christian beliefs and apply them to themselves, which results in the wrong doctrine. Such contradictions can be easily avoided through the use of dispensationalism.
Why Many Don’t Believe in Dispensationalism
Some critics attribute dispensationalism to a series of mind games because of the complexity it adds to scripture. However, Isaiah 55 gives us insight as to why dispensationalism is needed to correctly interpret the Bible. Just like God’s ways are not akin to our own, neither are his thoughts similar to ours. When Christians do not rightly divide, they conform to what the Bible says to fit their simple understanding and not to fully encompass God’s complex thoughts, which prevents them receiving the correct interpretation of God’s words.
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Many people have a hard time believing the general epistles are written for different people in different time periods: tribulation Jews and Christians.
An example of such dispensational writings is the book of John, where John writes verses meant for the tribulation Jews and switches to Christians and then back to tribulation Jews. An explanation for this is found in Exodus 3:14 and in the fact that God is the original writer of the Bible. It makes sense when the intended audience switches from tribulation Jews to Christians and vice versa because this is how God operates, beyond our level of comprehension.
Exodus 3:14 “And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.”
2 Peter 1:20 further assures us that it is God that speaks through various authors of the Bible through the Holy Spirit so we can trust scripture as it is written without additional interpretation.
2 Peter 1:20 “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
It is sometimes assumed that the authors of the Bible understood what they were writing, which is not the case when looking at Daniel 12:8. More often than not, man does not completely understand the words spoken by God. Even the disciples of Jesus did not completely understand Christian doctrine nor the apostles the writings of Paul. Evens so, the authors of the Bible understood and wrote it to the best of their ability with guidance from the Holy Spirit.
Daniel 12:8 “And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O? my Lord, what shall be the end of these things”
2 Peter 3:15-16 “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
Dispensationalism can be difficult for many to understand, which can lead to its rejection as an essential mode of rightly dividing scripture.
One of the reasons why people are often confused when learning about dispensationalism is that many verses are divided among different dispensations. Various examples of this can be seen throughout the Bible. Because the Bible is written by God through human writers, it encompasses higher thoughts that are difficult for us as human beings to comprehend. The complexity of scripture can lead us to simplify it for our own interpretation and by consequence, lose the original interpretation for the intended audience. Studying scripture is no easy task, especially when trying to decipher God’s thoughts, which are vastly more complex than our own. Given this dilemma, we are often faced with the desire, or rather the lack thereof, to study doctrine that challenges us and helps us grow spiritually. If we genuinely want to understand God’s word, we cannot assume the Bible contains one general idea but acknowledge that there are different things set apart for different people. For example, the following verses:
Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Exodus 3:14: “And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.”
As believers of God, we know that God is always in the present tense (as He refers to Himself as “I Am”) whilst mankind is time-dependent (past, present, future). Therefore, when God (not time-dependent) deals with man (time-dependent), He deals with man in separate timetables in a specific time period. We cannot assume that God deals with all men in the same manner and at the same time since there are different time periods found throughout man’s existence. Another issue is that believers assume that the writers of each book understood what they were writing and for whom the message was directed. They try to apply all verses to church age under this assumption. This is not true since there are verses in which the writers express their confusion upon receiving a message from God. The Holy Spirit moves among the authors of each book to write according to the will and understanding of God, not to the understanding of men. As Christians, we trust that scripture is the word of God and not of the men that were inspired to write them via the Holy Spirit.
Daniel 12:8: “And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?”
Isaiah 53:1: “ Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”
1 Peter 1:10-12: “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”
2 Peter 1:20-21: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
There are numerous examples in the Bible in which God divides many things among various peoples based upon His perfect will. That being said, it is equally necessary to rightly divide His word for our understanding and continual spiritual growth. Just as we can agree that we all have different callings in our spiritual walk with Christ, we can agree that not everything written in scripture is applicable to us Christians.
Numbers 26:52-56: “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names. To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him. Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit. According to the lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few.”
Mark 6:38-43: “He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.”
1 Corinthians 12:8-11: “ For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”