Four Major Views of the Millennium – 4
Lecture 4: Dispensational Premillennialism
Distinctives of Dispensationalism
Historic Premillennialism has existed since the second century, but Dispensationalism wasn’t articulated until the late nineteenth century by John Nelson Darby.
- Literal interpretation of the whole Bible, including Prophecy: They make no distinction between the various genres of Scripture. Historical, doctrinal, moral, and prophetic content are all taken in their literal, normal sense. They do allow for the use of figurative language, but they interpret it with a literal approach. In practice, this is quite confusing and rarely provides a unified outcome.
- Distinction between Israel and the Church: Dispensationalism taught that Israel and the Church were distinct peoples of God. God’s instructions and purposes for Israel were separate from his instructions and purposes for the Church. In fact, the present Church age is a parenthesis in God’s redemptive plan.1 He began with Israel and will finish with Israel, but in the meantime the Church benefits from a period of darkness that has fallen upon Israel.
- Gal. 6:15-16 The Israel of God is the same as all true believers “who walk by this rule”. “And” should be translated “even”. Circumcision does not matter, but a new creation which is the Church made up of both Jews and Gentiles saved by faith in Christ alone.
- Acts 13:32-34, 38-39 The promises made to Israel are fulfilled in the New Testament church.
- 1 Peter 2:9 written to a church made up of mostly Gentile Christians living in Asia minor (possibly exiled their under Emperor Claudius).
- “chosen Race” (Isa. 43:20)
- “a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (Exod. 19:6)
- “a people for his own possession” (Exod. 19:5)
- “Seed of Abraham” (Gal. 3:28-29).
- “Zion” and “Jerusalem” are inclusive of Jews and Gentiles. Hebrews 12:22-24 and Rev. 21:2 are parallel accounts picturing the combined people of God.
- Romans 11:17-24 Gentiles were grafted into the one olive tree because Jews were broken off. However, Jews can be regrafted into their own olive tree, and Gentiles can be cut off. The point is that the church is two distinct branches belonging to one olive tree, not two distinct trees.
Dispensationalism and the Bible
God interacts with humanity through seven dispensations2:
- Innocence (Adam > Fall, Gen 1:1–3:7)
- Conscience or Moral Responsibility (Adam > Noah, Gen 3:8–8:22)
- Human Government (Noah > Abraham, Gen 9:1–11:32)
- Promise (Abraham > Moses, Gen 12:1–Exod 19:25)
- Law (Moses > Christ, Exod 20:1–Acts 2:4)
- Church (Pentecost > Christ’s Return, Acts 2:4–Rev 20:3)
- Kingdom (Millennial Reign, Rev 20:4–20:6)
Originally, God operated differently in bring salvation in each dispensation. Thankfully, most dispensationalists reject that idea today. However, what makes the distinction between dispensations important if God is operating on the basis salvation by grace through faith in every age?
The wall of partition has been torn down (Eph. 2:14-15) during the Church Age, but dispensationalists reestablish the wall under the Kingdom Age. The reformed view sees the covenant of grace spanning the entire bible and maintains its unity.