In October 2015 a conference on the subject of “dispensations and ages” was held at the Gospel Hall in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Understanding the Bible’s dispensations greatly aids in appreciating its overall flow, structure and goal. These sessions will repay careful viewing.
Dan Shutt opened the conference with “An Introduction to Dispensationalism”, outlining the concept of dispensations and ages as revealed in the Bible.
David Vallance then spoke on “Dispensationalism and its Competition” in which he outlined the differences between Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology. Covenant Theology’s view of Biblical history falls short in numerous areas. In particular, it fails to make several vital theological distinctions – such as the difference between Israel and the church – and thus leads to confusion and inconsistency in Bible interpretation. A dispensational view of Scripture allows the Bible to be interpreted literally – using a grammatical-historical hermeneutic – not only in its theology and history, but also with regard to its eschatology, notwithstanding its use of figurative language in prophetic passages.
Ian Jackson followed with a message called “Dispensationalism and the Church Age”. The present age has two chief characteristics; the Holy Spirit has come down to earth, and there is a “Man in the glory”, Christ the ascended head of His church. The period between the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down, and the coming rapture of the Church to heaven before the tribulation, has been fittingly called “the great parenthesis”. It is a period not predicted in the Old Testament and concerns the church “which is His body”, a new entity composed of both Jews and Gentiles, all one in Christ. The existence, composition and purpose of this body was not known by the prophets of Old Testament times (Eph 3:4-6). Distinguishing between this body, the church, on the one hand, and Israel on the other, is one of the most vital elements in understanding the Bible as a whole.
David Vallance then took up the subject of “Dispensationalism and the Gospel”. He explained that salvation has always been, and will always be, by grace alone through faith alone in all ages. Though God’s dealings with men providentially and governmentally do differ from age to age, His character is unchanging, as is His great plan of salvation.
Ian Jackson closed the conference with a look at future events, understood dispensationally. Covenant Theology sees just one judgement and one resurrection at “the end of the world”. However, the Bible clearly teaches that there are 1,000 years between the Lord’s coming and the end of the world (Rev 19:11-20:15). Mr Jackson outlines the sequence of events that will unfold in the future, including the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, Daniel’s 70th week, the return of Christ to earth at the battle of Armageddon, the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth, the national restoration of the nation of Israel, the final rebellion of Satan, the end of the universe, and inauguration of new heavens and the new earth.